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Dogfight

MAGNOLIA tries to sustain the momentum  it generated from last Wednesday’s 47-point blowout of Kia Picanto as it plays an NLEX team that’s seeking to rebound from a stinging loss in the PBA Philippine Cup.

The Hotshots and the Road Warriors collide in the main tussle of a double-header at 6:45 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in a game which will trigger major shake-up in the standings of the kick-off conference.

The winner will break from a heavy five-way logjam for second to 6th places and move up to either solo second place or possibly solo lead.

The loser will then go down near the tail end of the upper half of the standings.

The Hotshots primed themselves up for tougher games ahead, including against the Road Warriors today, by posting a 124-77 rout of the Picanto last Wednesday in a game where their offense moved smoothly as manifested by 33 assists.

With the floor evenly spread, six Hotshots -- Justin Melton, Ian Sangalang, Robbie Herndon, Paul Lee and Peter June Simon – were able to score 11 points or more, resulting into Magnolia posting the biggest winning margin thus far this season.
    
Whether the Hotshots will be able to flash the same intensity today is an interesting focus because the Road Warriors are deadest to rebound from a humiliating 102-95 setback they suffered at the hands of Phoenix last Sunday.
    
“NLEX is well coached. We expect a hard game and we need to be ready mentally and physically,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
    
“We will just try to execute our game plan on both ends of the court and play as a team for 48 minutes for us to have a good chance of beating them (Road Warriors),” added Victolero.
    
The Road Warriors made a good start in the conference by pulling off back-to-back wins – 119-115 vs Kia last Dec. 20, and 115-104 vs. Globalport last Christmas-- before they fell in ambush to the Fuel Masters last Sunday.
    
Alaska, which struggled in the last Governors’ Cup, also did not take long to make the win column, bringing down Meralco, 103-98, last Wednesday in a game where Calvin Albueva tallied 19 points.
    
However, there is danger lurking on the Aces because, as the trend seems to show, every team is capable of beating another as Blackwater and Phoenix had shown.
    
The Picanto may have lost three straight already, but that should give the Aces enough caution in the 4:30 p.m. game.