• Hotshots, KaTropa clash for crucial win

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    TNT KaTropa and Star will face off in an important match with both teams eyeing the twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup today at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

    The KaTropa and the Hotshots, tied in the team standings with identical 6-2 win-loss slates, will collide in the main game at 7 p.m. right after the opening match between Meralco and GlobalPort at 4:15 p.m.

    Star head coach Chito Victolero knows the value of the game, as his wards want to enter the next phase armed with the incentive.

    Paul Lee of the Star Hotshots prepares to drive on Japeth Aguilar of Ginebra during the Philippine Cup semifinals at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay, City. PBA MEDIA BUREAU PHOTO

    “We’re both tied with TNT in the fourth place, so we have to play our best against the combination of their players who are strong in every position,” said Victolero.

    “We still have three games left in the elimination and we have to do our best in those remaining games,” he added.

    The Hotshots are parading balik-import Ricardo Ratliffe, who replaced Tony Mitchell, and Victolero hopes he can match up well with TNT import Donte Greene.

    Paul Lee, Mark Barroca and Peter June Simon will lead Star’s attack as they try to duplicate their 99-93 win over Rain or Shine last Saturday in Batangas City. The Hotshots will miss the services of Allein Maliksi and Jio Jalalon, who are both loaned to Gilas Pilipinas.

    The KaTropa leaned on Greene’s 41-point, 21-rebound performance to hand San Miguel Beer its first loss in the tournament last week, 112-103, despite playing minus Roger Pogoy, Troy Rosarion and Jayson Castro who are also loaned to the national team.

    In the opener, the Bolts face the retooled Batang Pier, who acquired new players in last week’s four-team, multi-player trade deals.

    Meralco is currently sitting at the top spot with a 7-1 slate while GlobalPort is fighting for survival in the mid-season conference with a 2-6 mark.

    “The game versus GlobalPort will be difficult to gauge because they have new local players and new import. We will just go out and play hard and try to pick up a win,” said Bolts head coach Norman Black, who added a new playmaker in Garvo Lanete in a trade last week.

    The Batang Pier are parading a new import in Justin Harper, who replaced the ineffective Malcolm White, as well as Jonathan Grey, Bradwyn Guinto and Sean Anthony.

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