Meralco is looking to ruin the farewell game of import Vernon Macklin, when the Bolts battle Magnolia Pambansang Manok today in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 43 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Meralco, with 3-1 win-loss record is eyeing a share of the top post with Rain or Shine.
Coming from back-to-back wins, the Bolts are hoping to sustain their winning momentum in their 7 p.m. encounter against the Hotshots. TNT KaTropa meets winless Blackwater in the 4:30 p.m. first game.
But Meralco coach Norman Black admits Magnolia is no easy foe.
“Magnolia will be a tough game especially after the way they played versus the Columbian Dyip,” said Black, who will rely on import Arinze Onuaku. “It’s important that we do a good job of handling their pressure defense and limiting their turnovers, while also we must get back on defense to slow down their fast breaks.”
Onuaku is Meralco’s main guy in the shaded lane, averaging 19.7 points, 17 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 2.0 blocks in four games. Besides Onuaku, Jared Dillinger, Baser Amer and Chris Newsome are also expected to step up for Meralco.
Meanwhile, Macklin describes his last game as a “bittersweet” situation.
“It’s the same even though it’s a bittersweet situation. I came here with these guys to start the season and I want to finish with these guys. I have something to take care of and I’ve got to do something for my family,” Macklin, who finished with 19 points in Magnolia’s 126-101 win over Columbian last Wednesday, told reporters.
Macklin will leave the country after today’s game to join a league in China.
“But I’m still going to come out here and play hard. It doesn’t matter if it’s the last game or the first game. I’m just going to play my best for the Hotshots and for myself. I know Arinze Onuaku since college so he is really a good import,” he added.
Holding a 2-1 win-loss record, the Hotshots want to nail their third straight win since losing its opening game to Phoenix.
“We are just going to play our best defense against this elite team (Meralco),” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “That’s our strength—our defense. So it is going to be a battle of two defensive teams.”
Meanwhile, TNT also seeks a share of the lead as it faces Blackwater.
TNT is also holding a 3-1 win-loss record just like Meralco. KaTropa’s three-game winning run was halted by a 100-110 loss to Alaska last week, and they are keen to bounce back huge today.
Meanwhile, the Elite are determined to stop a five-game losing streak to keep their hopes for a playoff spot alive.