Four teams play games of survival

March 19, 2019
Paul Lee
MAGNOLIA’S Paul Lee gets screen from Kyle Pascual as he makes a drive during the Hotshots’ encounter with Barangay Ginebra last Sunday. PBA Images

Alaska takes on Meralco while Magnolia plays North Port in a pair of crucial matches featuring teams fighting for survival in the PBA Philippine Cup.

The Aces meet the Bolts in the first game at 4:30 p.m. while the Hotshots collide with the Batang Pier in the 7 p.m. main offering at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With only six playing dates left in the 11-game elimination, the four teams have a lot of catching up to do to make the eight-team quarterfinal round.

The Hotshots are barely hanging at the eighth place at 3-5, with the Aces occupying 9th at 3-5 card. The Bolts are in 10th at 3-6 while the Batang Pier are near the bottom at 11th with 2-5 slate.

Mathematically, these four teams are still in contention, but they need to bolster their chances by getting the most of what are left in their games in the elimination.

The Hotshots and the Aces have three more games left to play, while the Bolts are left with only two games. The Batang Pier on the other hand, have four more games to play.

Needless to say, they all have to pump life to their diminishing hopes if they are to make the next round of the kickoff conference.

A win by Alaska will not only halt the Aces’ three-game slide but also at least keep it abreast of fellow-eighth placer Magnolia.

However, the Aces found themselves in the predicament because they are up against a Meralco team that’s also playing with a lot of urgency in order to stay alive too.

“Once again, it’s practically a do or die for both teams so we are expecting an intense battle with Alaska,” said Meralco coach Norman Black.

“Handling their full court defensive pressure will be a main key,” added Black.

It is interesting to note that all of Meralco’s five losses were by six points or less, its latest setback at the hands of Rain or Shine last Friday being just by three points, 85-88.

Apparently, the Bolts need to have more finishing kick.

“Since most of our games have come down to the endgame it’s important that we execute well in the homestretch,” admitted Black.

And the Bolts will have to give their all on both ends today and in their last game in the elimination on Wednesday which happens to be against Barangay Ginebra.

In contrast, the Aces have lost three straight - to the Hotshots, NLEX Road Warriors and TNT KaTropa — by an average margin of 17 points, no thanks to the injuries plaguing the team.

Simon Enciso and Chris Banchero have just returned to active duty while Vic Manuel, Jayvee Casio and Kevin Racal have yet to see action in the conference.