Hotshots, Aces plunge into crucial games today

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The Star Hotshots and the Alaska Aces will be playing against separate foes today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. The results of the two matches will determine the No. 2 seed at the end of the elimination round.

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The Hotshots will face the already-eliminated Mahindra Floodbuster in the 4:15 p.m. first game followed by the match between the Aces and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at 7 p.m.

Paul Lee of Star Hotshots drives past Ryan Sena of Blackwater during a PBA Philippine Cup game at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

The Hotshots, with a 6-4 win-loss record, are gunning for their fourth straight win to earn the second spot and the last twice-to-beat quarterfinals bonus. The Hotshots posted a lopsided 120-73 win over Meralco last week.

“We will go all out against Mahindra,” said Star Hotshots coach Chito Victolero in a text message. “We prepare hard for this game because we want to end our last elimination game with a win, going into the playoffs to build momentum and a winning habit.”

“Plus the fact that we have a chance to the no. 2 spot. But Mahindra is playing well so we need to focus on defense and follow our game plan.”

Swingman Allein Maliksi, Paul Lee, Mark Andy Barroca, Peter June Simon, Justin Melton, Ian Sanggalang, Jean Marc Pingris and Rafi Reavis will lead the Hotshots.

Former Star Hotshot Alex Mallari is expected to play hard against his former team. The Floodbuster with a 3-7 win-loss record are already out of the race for a quarterfinals berth.

“We want to end our conference on a high note and make a big statement that we are going to be highly competitive in the next conference,” said Mahindra assistant coach Chris Gavina.

“There is a plenty of motivation for us to outplay Star and Mallari will be sure to be highly inspired to play at a high level against his former team,” he added.

Besides Mallari, Philip Paniamogan, Ryan Arana, Jeric Teng, Jason Ballesteros, Mark Yee, LA Revilla and Bong Galanza will lead the charge of Mahindra.

Meanwhile, Alaska aims for its seventh win in 11 games when it battles Rain or Shine. A victory by the Aces against the Elasto Painters is crucial for them to snatch the last twice-to-beat quarterfinals spot.

The Aces, with 6-4 win-loss record, are currently sharing the second spot with the Hotshots.

In the event that the Hotshots and the Aces both won, Alaska will get the No. 2 quarterfinal spot because they beat Star, 97-90, last January 11, during the elimination round.

Stepping up for the Aces are Calvin Abueva, Jayvee Casio, Sonny Thoss, RJ Jazul, Dondon Hontiveros and Kevin Racal.

The Elasto Painters are keen on bouncing back from a 99-117 loss to the GlobalPort Batang Pier last Sunday. A win against Alaska is also important for Rain or Shine to keep its hope of entering the quarterfinals alive.

Both teams are holding a 5-5 win-loss record.

Leading Rain or Shine’s charge are James Yap, Maverick Ahanmisi, Raymond Almazan, Beau Belga, Jewel Ponferada, Jericho Cruz, Anthony Jay Washington and Don Trollano.

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