The PBA turns 43 years-old this season and as part of its more than four-decades tradition to provide the need for a wider base, the country’s and Asia’s first professional league resumes its provincial pilgrimage this time to Cagayan de Oro City in faraway Mindanao starting Saturday.
A single-game bill has been scheduled to be played at the Xavier University Gym featuring Magnolia Hothots Pambansang Manok and Meralco, which could decide the two team’s fate in their respective campaign for a quarterfinal round slot each.
The Hotshots have actually secured a place in the next round of eight but are still in contention for one of the top two seats that will give them a twice-to-beat privilege to make it to the semifinal round.
The Bolts, for their part, will just be trying to hang on to their present position in the hope of still improving on their 4-3 win-loss card and avoid getting into the ignominy of being one of the four teams that will be eliminated.
Two more playing days are left to end the elimination round – one on Wednesday at the MOA Arena where the already qualified San Miguel Beer and Rain or Shine will meet to determine which of them make it with the twice-to-beat bonus.
The Beermen currently lead the 12-team field with a superior 7-2 slate with the Hotshots closely following at 7-3 and the Elasto Painters still having the chance to earn the privilege at 5-3 but need to sweep their remaining two games, the last against Barangay Ginebra next Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco’s sister team Talk ‘N Text Katropa is still in the race for at least for one of the remaining seats in the “Magic 8” at 4-5 and will be facing fellow MVP Group campaigner NLEX also Wednesday, which for all intent and purposes, is already in at 6-4 along with Alaska Milk.
Also on Sunday, two other remaining candidates – Global Port and Phoenix mix it up.
As of this writing, Meralco coach Norman Black and his Bolts should have already flown to CDO where they will have the privilege of fulfilling the league’s commitment under the “Alagang PBA” project where they will be giving away gifts such as school supplies and other souvenir items to some 100 school children that makeup City Mayor Oscar Moreno’s scholarship program on the same day.
The event will be held beside the Xavier Gym.
The Hotshots, led by team manager and PBA great Alvin Patrimonio and coach Chito Victolero leave today for CDO along with PBA staffers Niel Tibajajes and Rodolfo Atutubo and referees Peter Balao, Sherwin Pineda, Reynaldo Yante, and Gomer Obina and marketing lady Jorelyn Francisco.
The group will pay Mayor Moreno a courtesy call on arrival before their turn to meet the city’s scholars.
Commissioner Willie Marcial, who will still oversee the doubleheader will follow tomorrow along with technical group head Eric Castro and Junior Bengua.