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Crucial Matchup: Magnolia and Phoenix Top Teams Face Off

Magnolia looks to reclaim its groove while Phoenix Super LPG hopes to stay on theirs in a PBA (Philippine Basketball Association) Commissioner’s Cup doubleheader on Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum that will heavily impact the race for the Top 4 spots.

The Hotshots, reeling from a sobering 113-110 loss to Rain or Shine in Cagayan de Oro City last weekend, will try to pounce on the struggles of Terrafirma starting at 8 p.m.

Count on head coach Chito Victolero to give the struggling Dyip no quarters as winning not only puts the Hotshots (7-1, win-loss) back on the win column but also affords the club some sort of a separation—albeit narrowly—from Meralco and the Fuel Masters, who are both sitting on a 6-1 mark and are also gunning for the coveted twice-to-beat protection.

Plus, Magnolia should draw plenty of lessons from that stunning defeat at the hands of the struggling Elastopainters, who are still scurrying for wins in a shrinking elimination round schedule.

A Terrafirma victory, on the other hand, gives Johnedel Cardel and his charges a 2-5 mark that serves as a life raft in a campaign that has been looking bleak.

The first game looks just as interesting as Phoenix is staking its five-game streak against a dangerous NorthPort that has become even deeper after the addition of several role players.

“They’ve got some new players: Allyn Bulanadi, Ben Adamos, Kris Rosales who can give us problems,” said coach Jamike Jarin, referring to the Batang Pier’s pickups from the three-team swap centered on Robert Bolick that involved NLEX and San Miguel Beer.

The Fuel Masters will have a slight advantage having been well-rested. They last played on Dec. 9, in an 83-77 upset of defending champion Barangay Ginebra in San Jose, Batangas.

But NorthPort is just as eager to shore up their 5-3 record, as doing so also gives the Batang Pier a big boost in that footrace for the playoff bonus and plucks them out of a tie with perennial title contender San Miguel Beer. “We still need to win some more and get that twice-to-beat advantage,” Jarin said. “For us, in our culture, the most important game is the next game.” INQ