by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs Blackwater
6:45 p.m. – Ginebra vs Magnolia
TNT KaTropa takes a crack at the twice-to-beat advantage while Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Magnolia dispute the right to become the fourth team to clinch a quarterfinals berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The KaTropa take on the Blackwater Elite in the first game at 4:30 p.m. before the Kings and Hotshots square off at 6:45 p.m. in the renewal of their Manila Clasico rivalry.
Needing just one win to gain the quarterfinal bonus, TNT (8-1) will bank on import Terrence Jones as it tries to avoid Blackwater’s quest to score another upset victory.
Blackwater pulled off a 104-99 overtime win over Magnolia last Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena with Roi Sumang taking the cudgels from the anemic rookie Ray Parks Jr. by scoring all of his 19 points in the fourth quarter and extension.
Jones is coming off his second triple-double of the conference last Wednesday, posting 33 points, 21 rebounds, and 13 assists in TNT’s 102-81 rout of Rain or Shine.
New import Staphon Blair, who had 14 points, 14 rebounds, and five blocks against the Hotshots, tries to contain Jones in hopes of keeping the chances of the Elite (6-3) in the twice-to-beat race.
In the second game, Ginebra and Magnolia meet for the first time since their quarterfinal series in the Philippine Cup last April.
Magnolia won that series, overcoming a Game 1 loss by taking the next two matches.
The Hotshots, who fell to fourth at 5-3, are eager to atone for their defeat to the Elite that ended a streak of five consecutive victories.
Ginebra is in fifth position with a 5-4 record after defeating Alaska, 118-106, the previous Sunday.