by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – Magnolia vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs NLEX
Magnolia goes for its sixth straight win while beleaguered San Miguel Beer hopes to start a turnaround when they play separate rivals in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Hotshots battle the Blackwater Elite in a battle for playoff positioning at 4:30 p.m. while the Beermen parade new import Chris McCullough against the NLEX Road Warriors in the 7 p.m. nightcap.
Both teams are on different routes since their Philippine Cup Finals with Magnolia looking to climb the ladder and San Miguel enduring a tailspin.
After a 0-2 start, Magnolia got back to its winning ways with import James Farr proving why his lousy debut after replacing the injured John Fields was only an aberration.
Coach Chito Victolero’s team enters the game looking to catch up at TNT KaTropa (8-1) and NorthPort (8-2) in the race for the twice-to-beat advantage given to the top two teams.
Mark Barroca enters the game riding high a 21-point, seven-assist performance in front his hometown fans in Zamboanga City last Saturday when Magnolia rolled past Meralco.
Marc Pingris may get additional playing time anew after producing four points and eight rebounds in that contest.
SMB, meanwhile, is staring at a potential absence from the playoffs after dropping to 2-5 with Sunday’s 134-132 overtime defeat to Columbian.
The Beermen pushed the panic button last Tuesday by replacing Charles Rhodes with McCullough, who is eyed to infuse renewed vigor to the championship-caliber squad.
McCullough has enjoyed his few first days in Manila, even expressing his joy for eating fried chicken at a local fastfood chain. He hopes to find the same positive approach on the court for SMB.