Hotshots, Aces in vital tiff

October 13, 2018
Matthew Wright
Matthew Wright of Phoenix tries to break the defense of the San Miguel Beermen (top photo) while teammate Calvin Abueva finds himself being challenged by Kevin Murphy during the SMB-Phoenix game which the Beermen won handily, 117-100. (PBA Images)

Magnolia and Alaska – two of the hottest teams now in the PBA – meet today in a crucial tiff that could turn the race for Top Four tighter in the Governors’ Cup.

The Hotshots are looking for their seventh win in eight outings that will solidify their hold of the second spot behind Barangay Ginebra, which could rev up its own stock with an expected win over Rain or Shine.

The 7-1 Gin Kings were still playing the Elasto Painters as of press time in a lone Petron Blaze Saturday Special at Quezon Convention Center in Lucena City.

The Aces, on the other hand, are gunning for their sixth win in seven outings, win that will keep them entrenched in the Top Four, with still eight more playing dates left in the elimination round.

Getting to Top Four is everybody’s goal for good reason: teams that ended in the  Top Four have the luxury of having to win only once over the lesser seeded opponents in the quarterfinal round.

That’s how important this game is for both the Hotshots and the Aces who are both defense-oriented teams.

“I think this is more of a defensive game,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero, referring to the Hotshots’ 6:45 p.m. meeting with the Aces at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Strengths of both teams is defense, we need to execute our game plan on both ends,” added Victolero. “Staying together and playing together for 48 minutes is crucial for this very important game.”

Both teams are on hot streak, with the Hotshots going for their fifth straight victory, and the Aces shooting for their third straight.

The Hotshots capped their four-game streak with a 133-99 spanking of Blackwater – another title-contender in the season-ending conference – last Oct. 10.

The Aces are also going into the game, enjoying good amount of momentum after winning their last two outings, including against San Miguel Beer which they demolished, 127-119, last Oct. 6 behind 36-point explosion of import Mike Harris.

NLEX meanwhile guns for its fifth win in nine outings at the expense of a virtually-ousted Meralco team in the curtain-raiser at 4:30 p.m.

The Road Warriors lost their last two outings – 106-92 to Ginebra on October 5 and 123-97 to Phoenix last Oct. 10.