Mahindra will be seeking a fifth straight win when it battles Phoenix Petroleum, while the Northern Luzon Expressway (NLEX) and the Star Hotshots will collide for a second victory today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Governor’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Enforcers will be battling the Fuel Masters in the first game at 4:15 p.m. followed by the 7 p.m. game between the Road Warriors and the Star Hotshots.
Mahindra is tied with Talk ‘N Text on top of the team standings with an identical 4-0 win-loss record.
“The good thing about James (White) is he knows how to motivate himself,” Mahindra Coach Chris Gavina told The Manila Times in a phone interview on Thursday. “All the players are working so hard and they have the winning mentality.”
The 23-year-old White, who posted an average of 25 points and 14 points in the past four games, led Mahindra to impressive triumphs over the Star Hotshots (100-92), GlobalPort (108-98), reigning champion San Miguel Beer (105-103) and Alaska (101-95).
Besides White, rookie Keith Agovida, who was chosen as this week’s top player, is expected to step up alongside Nino “KG” Canaleta, Paolo Taha, Aldrech Ramos, Mark Yee, Jason Ballesteros, Bradwyn Guinto and Nards Pinto to notch their fifth consecutive victory.
“We are preparing seriously about Phoenix. We have to prepare our offense and defense against this great shooting and running team,” added Gavina. “They also have a good new import. We cannot relax against them.”
But Phoenix’s newest import Eugene Phelps, also known as “El Destructor” during his stint in Central America, will get in Mahindra’s way.
Phelps, who replaced Marcus Simmons, posted 52 points plus 16 rebounds to help the Fuel Masters bag their first win in four games at the expense of winless GlobalPort (120-107).
“They (Mahindra) are playing very well that’s why we need to disrupt the flow of their game especially their import (White) who takes a lot of basic jump shots,” said Ariel Vanguardia, the Fuel Masters’ coach, in a separate interview.
“At the same time, I told our import that he’s a marked man now as far as Mahindra’s defense is concerned. But I believe he can adjust,” he added. “My local players will also be there to help him.”
The Fuel Masters will lean on rookies Norbert Torres, Simon Enciso and Mark Cruz, as well as John Wilson and Willie Wilson.
Meanwhile, the Road Warriors under coach Boyet Fernandez is aiming to halt a three-game losing skid.
“The Star Hotshots are a strong and talented team,” said Fernandez via text message.
“They may be in the same situation like us but this team is capable to beat any team in the PBA. For us, we just have to play the game the whole 48 minutes, play defense and execute our offensive pattern, we will have a chance to win,” he said.
The NLEX Road Warriors and the Star Hotshots are both holding a 1-3 win-loss records.
Import Henry Bill Walker and Paul Asi Taulava are expected to lead the Road Warriors together with Jonas Villanueva, Kevin Alas and Sean Anthony.
The Star Hotshots, on the other hand, will parade its new import Joel Wright who replaced Marqus Blakely.
Two-time Most Valuable Player James Yap, Jean Marc Pingris, Mark Andy Barroca, Peter June Simon and Ian Sanggalang will provide additional firepower.