Games Today (Cuneta Astrodome)
4:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Kia
6:45 p.m. – Magnolia vs Phoenix
Magnolia shoots for its third straight win while Kia tries to once again avoid reaching a record for futility tonight as they face separate rivals to highlight a rare Saturday doubleheader in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Hotshots take on the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the main game of the Petron Saturday Special at 6:45 p.m. after the Picanto once again attempt to end their miserable run of form, this time against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at 4:30 p.m.
After double-digit wins over Kia and NLEX to start the new year, Magnolia’s confidence has soared in the early part of its quest to earn a finals berth following semifinal defeats in all three conferences last season.
Much of the early-season success has been credited to the strong showing of Paul Lee, who is playing like a well-oiled machine following offseason knee surgery, and center Ian Sangalang, who looks set to have the best season of his five-year pro career.
In Sunday’s 105-94 win over NLEX, the Hotshots found a key contributor in Rome dela Rosa, who scored 14 points while providing solid defense on rookie Kiefer Ravena despite the latter’s 31-point output.
Rookie Robbie Herndon remains a solid acquisition while veterans Marc Pingris, Mark Barroca and Aldrech Ramos have had a hand in the two January wins.
“Maganda para sa new year namin. kahit papaano ang first two games namin ng new year, kahit paapano maganda ang mindset ng mga players,” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero.
Phoenix, carrying a 2-2 slate, is determined to bounce back from a disappointing 120-99 defeat to Rain or Shine last Wednesday when it allowed the Elasto Painters to score 39 points in the opening period.
The Elasto Painters shoot for their second straight win despite dealing with injuries to Jericho Cruz and Jay Washington behind Ed Daquioag, Chris Tiu, James Yap, Gabe Norwood and the returning Raymond Almazan, back from a team-imposed one-game ban for disciplinary reasons.
Rain or Shine hopes to carry its sizzling form from the Phoenix matchup and hand the Picanto a 17th straight defeat that would tie them with the 1995 Ginebra San Miguel squad for second all-time.
The all-time mark is 18 held by the Great Taste team from the 1980 season, and Kia will be hard-pressed to end that slump after their last three losses came at an average of 35.6 points per game.