Magnolia is seeking to regain a spot it had held earlier in the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Riding on back-to-back wins, the Hotshots try to catch up with Barangay Ginebra at the top as they play Columbian Dyip, a team seeking its first win which is becoming hard, too hard, to find for the franchise in the season-ending conference.
There’s no doubt the Hotshots are heavily favored to win against the pitiful Dyip in their 4:30 p.m. tussle at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots stunned Rain or Shine on Sept. 26, 92-76, then nipped San Miguel Beer, 109-108, on Sept. 30, to gain a share of second spot with Blackwater at 4-1.
On both occasions, it was Paul Lee who emerged as the top performer against RoS — his former team – Lee cut loose with 22 points, then banged away with 28 against the Beermen.
Aside from Lee becoming consistent in every way, the Hotshots are also beginning to get more cohesive on both ends, with most of the locals giving significant contributions in a show that they are not totally dependent on import Romeo Travis, who is not a big scorer.
Travis is averaging 20.8 points, 16.4 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 3.0 steals and 1.4 blocks per game. Although he is not that impressive compared to other imports, the Hotshots are visibly satisfied with him.
“Kasi kung papalit-palit ka, mahihirapan ka like nung last conference. That is why nagkaproblema ’yung mga locals namin sa chemistry. Si Romeo, he’s not a big scorer but his leadership malaking bagay at ’yung ibang nagagawa niya - defense, communication, chemistry - ’di mo makikita sa ibang import ’yun,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
During the last Commissioner’s Cup, Magnolia used four imports.
“Ma-settle ka sa import mo then you have a chance,” added Victolero.
This is going to be the fourth outing in 10 days for the Hotshots, and Victolero is a bit worried by the fatigue factor that may affect his players.
“I know my players are a little bit tired but I told them that we need to finish strong and push ourselves to win this important game,” said Victolero.
“It’s about heart and mind this time,” added Victolero, acknowledging Columbian, which is winless in six games, is a very dangerous team which cannot be taken for granted.
Alaska meanwhile guns for its fourth win in five games as it takes on the Elasto Painters in the 7 p.m. main offering. The Aces are sporting a 3-1 record and they are playing for the first time in a month, or since losing to Barangay Ginebra, 109-101, last Sept 2.