(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Blackwater vs Alaska
6:45 p.m. – Magnolia vs TNT KaTropa
The Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok and TNT KaTropa look to sustain their winning runs tonight when they face off in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Both teams seek to emerge victorious in their 6:45 p.m. game of the Petron Saturday Special to stay within striking distance of league-leader San Miguel Beermen in the team standings.
Magnolia won its last three games to hold second spot at 4-1 while TNT climbed to a share of third with Alaska at 3-2 after victories over Blackwater and Meralco.
Also eyeing to move up in the standings is Alaska, which takes on struggling Blackwater in the 4:30 p.m. opener. The Aces enter the match with three straight victories after a 0-2 start, including Sunday’s rout of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Blackwater has lost its last two games after pulling off its own win over Ginebra last Jan. 12.
Confidence is at a high at the Magnolia camp with Marc Pingris, Rafi Reavis, Jio Jalalon already back from their respective injuries and Paul Lee having a renaissance performance after offseason knee injury and Ian Sangalang becoming a potential star.
“Pag buo kami, mas okay yung team, talagang may laban. Kumpletos rekados kami tulad ng sinasabi ni (Magnolia) coach (Chito Victolero), so I hope na wala nang ma-injured,” said Pingris.
TNT coach Nash Racela is wary of Magnolia’s current run, hoping that his team would show its status as one of three teams that reached the semifinals of all three conferences last season.
The KaTropa will bank on Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario, who fired six of the team’s 18 triples in the 99-81 defeat of the Meralco Bolts also last Sunday in Antipolo.
“I think they’re playing at a high level,” said Racela. “It will take our best to be able to at least match up with them and give ourselves a good chance.”
Meanwhile, Alaska tries to produce a fitting sequel to its 97-83 triumph over Ginebra, the best performance the Aces had since absorbing a 14-game skid in-between last season’s Commissioner’s Cup and Governors’ Cup.
But the Aces see a more-determined showing from the Elite, who at 2-3 are eager to redeem themselves following losses at the hands of the KaTropa and GlobalPort Batang Pier.