By Jonas Terrado
Paul Lee and Mark Barroca resume their PBA Philippine Cup duties following a successful national team stint as Magnolia seeks to end a winless start against Meralco at the Xavier University Gym in Cagayan de Oro City.
The Hotshots are banking on the confidence Lee and Barroca gained in helping Gilas Pilipinas secure qualification to the FIBA World Cup when they battle the Bolts in the 5 p.m. Petron Saturday Special affair.
Magnolia is on its worst start since coach Chito Victolero took charge in 2016 after losses to TNT KaTropa, San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine.
But Victolero is confident that there’s still plenty of time left for the Hotshots to turn things around which he hopes would start in their battle with the inconsistent Bolts.
Meralco has dropped its last two games, including an 86-85 setback to the Columbian Dyip last Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
At presstime, the Bolts are tied for ninth place with the NLEX Road Warriors at 2-4.
Lee and Barroca have yet to put up big numbers this conference which perhaps contributed to Magnolia’s flat start.
Lee averaged 8.7 points on 26-percent shooting with 3.7 rebounds and 3.0 assists while Barroca normed 8.3 points, 4.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists.
Ian Sangalang currently leads the team in scoring at 16.7 points even as sophomore Robbie Herndon has produced 9.0 points and 7.7 boards.
On the other hand, Meralco coach Norman Black is banking on Chris Newsome to lead the Bolts’ quest to get back inside the top eight.
Newsome has an team-high 13.2 points per contest even as Ranidel de Ocampo and Nico Salva look to provide ample support.
A consistent showing from starting point guard Baser Amer could be beneficial in the Bolts’ bid to snap their skid.