Clash of the PBA biggies

October 09, 2018

Games today:

(Cuneta Astrodome)

4:30 p.m. -- NLEX vs. Phoenix

7 p.m. —  Blackwater vs. Magnolia

BLACKWATER and Magnolia, two teams in hot pursuit of the coveted playoff  berths  with twice-to-beat bonus, square off today in a vital encounter that could make or break their campaign in the PBA Governors Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome  in Pasay City.

Game time is 7 p.m. with the Elite, 6-1, and the Hotshots, 5-1, looking for the all-important win that will put right behind defending champion Barangay Ginebra.

More importantly, the winner of  today’s encounter will move the solo second place and closer to their desired result with the elimination phase coming to an end.

“It’s really a big game in our bid to make the Top Four,” said Blackwater coach Bong Ramos who are hoping to extend the franchise’s strongest start since joining the league as an expansion team in 2014..

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero had the same observation.

“Blackwater is playing very well as a team right now,” said Victolero, who are gunning for a season-best fourth straight win with the Hotshots.

“It could be a  grind-out game for both teams. Mental toughness and execution is very important for this game, so we expect a battle on both ends. We need to go to our strength, which is defense,” added Victolero.

As things stand now, the Elite and the Hotshots still need to step up their campaign   since no less than  three teams -- Phoenix Petroleum (5-2), NLEX (4-3) and Talk N Text (4-4) -- are still within  striking distance with still close to a month before the end of the eliminations.

San Miguel Beer is another team lurking  behind dangerously despite a 2-4 win-loss start..

Last year,  Blackwater made it to the quarterfinal round as the No. 8 seed in the Philippine Cup and lost.

The Elite were eliminated in the Commissioner’s Cup, advanced to the quarterfinal round again in the Governors’ Cup only to be ousted by Meralco.

Import Henry Walker hopes for a different ending this time.

“We’re now a wolf pack. We play together, we win together, we lose together,” said Walker, whose team  managed only one win in 13 games  in the previous tournament.

“We’re moving the ball. We’re taking full advantage of playing to the best of our abilities. I trust my teammates and that makes things easier for me,” added Walker.

Nard Pinto, voted as the “Best Player of the Game” against the E-Painters,  said  Walker is the catalyst in their sudden emergence as a title contender.

“He’s the one pushing us all. He’s the reason why we got here. He’s  the one setting the tone. We just follow the example he sets,” said Pinto, who nailed a back-breaking three-point shot in the Elite win over the E-Painters.

Walker, however, is expected to find  life harder against Magnolia counterpart Travis Romeo.   In  the 4:30 p.m.curtainraiser, Phoenix also guns for its sixth win when it takes on dangerous NLEX.

“Kailangan gawin naming defensive game instead of shootout this game,” said  Phoenix coach Louie Alas when asked about his  game plan against the Road Warriors.

“We have  more chances of a W  kami  if it’s a defensive game," added Alas.

NLEX coach Yeng Guiao shared the same game plan.

“Phoenix is well balanced and is  capable of  beating  any team. We have to make  the stops, take  them  away from their comfort zone,” explained Guiao.