by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs Magnolia
7 p.m. – Phoenix Pulse vs San Miguel
Magnolia tries to secure a quarterfinals berth anew when it battles new import Carl Montgomery and Rain or Shine in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots, with a record of 5-4, are hoping that the third time will be a charm as they play the Elasto Painters (4-5) at 4:30 p.m. as the chase for the four remaining playoff spots continues.
San Miguel Beer (3-5) and Phoenix Pulse (4-5) slug it out in the nightcap at 7 p.m. in another game that has playoff implications.
Attention will be on Beermen import Chris McCullough, who erupted for 47 points in his debut last Friday against the NLEX Road Warriors.
After five straight wins, Magnolia absorbed back-to-back defeats that further delayed its expected entry to the playoffs.
The skid began last Friday when the Hotshots fell 104-99 in overtime to the Blackwater Elite before losing steam two nights later in a 102-81 beatdown by Manila Clasico rival Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
Coach Chito Victolero, however, feels that there’s no cause for concern since Magnolia still holds its own fortunes.
“Dalawang try kami pero medyo minalas kami, but hopefully maging swerte naman,” (“We failed in our two chances but hopefully we’ll get lucky this time.”) said Victolero.
Import James Farr, who scored a conference-high 34 points against Ginebra, Mark Barroca, Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang and Jio Jalalon lead the charge for the Hotshots, who will also attempt to find ways to neutralize Montgomery.
Montgomery was tapped by Rain or Shine after Denzel Bowles was ruled out for the rest of the conference with an injured left knee.
Rain or Shine, holding a 4-5 record for share of sixth with Phoenix, also needs a win to boost its own quarterfinal hopes.