(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Blackwater vs Magnolia
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Meralco
ROS, Meralco in crucial clash.
The Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok go for the solo lead despite the possible absence of Paul Lee today when they take the skidding Blackwater Elite in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Lee could be forced to watch his team’s bid to secure their sixth consecutive win and overtake the defending champion San Miguel Beermen for the top spot in the 4:30 p.m. match with the Elite after twisting his left ankle in last week’s victory over TNT KaTropa.
His injury came at a bad timing after an impressive showing this conference that saw the 2012 Rookie of the Year, coming off offseason surgery on his knee, average 17.5 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists for the Hotshots.
Whether Lee plays or not, Magnolia seeks to produce an impressive outing before battling San Miguel two days later at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon and the vastly improving Rome dela Rosa will be tasked by coach Chito Victolero to deliver the needed production at the backcourt and compliment the steady plays of Ian Sangalang, Marc Pingris and Rafi Reavis.
“We can’t stop,” said Victolero. “Mahirap magkumpiyansa at mag-settle down kasi lahat ng teams nagiimprove. Kailangan lang namin mag-focus.”
Blackwater is in dire need of victory after absorbing disappointing losses against TNT, GlobalPort and Alaska. The Elite are coming off an 88-84 loss to the Aces Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Poy Erram, Mac Belo, rookie Raymar Jose, Mike DiGregorio and Allein Maliksi lead Blackwater’s quest to upset the red-hot Magnolia side.
Rain or Shine and Meralco clash in the second game at 7 p.m. in a game that means a lot to both teams having inconsistent campaigns this conference.
The Elasto Painters carry an even 3-3 slate but have yet to find their groove while the Bolts are at 2-4 after a blowout defeat at the hands of the GlobalPort Batang Pier last Sunday.
James Yap, Chris Tiu, Raymond Almazan, Gabe Norwood and Beau Belga try to put Rain or Shine in a tie for fourth with TNT while Baser Amer, Cliff Hodge, Reynel Hugnatan, Chris Newsome and Jared Dillinger attempt to put the Bolts inside the top eight.