4:30 p.m. --Columbian vs. Rain or Shine
7 p.m. --Meralco vs. Magnolia
WINNING five straight games is already enough reason for Magnolia coach Chito Victolero to be happy.
But Victolero is also hoping the desire and will to win more games -- and reach as far as they could in the playoffs --will remain on the mindset of his players.
“Our desire and effort are the key factors for this game,” said Victolero , referring to Magnolia’s 7 p.m. game against dangerous Meralco in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.
“We want to secure our chances to the top 4 position, so our defense and execution is also very important for this very crucial game,” added Victolero.
He noted that Meralco, at 2-6, is expected to play with a sense of urgency and sweep its remaining three assignments to keep its flickering hopes alive.
And that, in Victolero’s mind, makes Meralco an even tougher opponent to beat now.
“We need to surpass or match up the will to win of Meralco,” said Victolero.
Magnolia import Romeo Travis and guards Jio Jalalon, Paul Lee and Marc Barroca are mainly responsible in making the Hotshots as the hottest team in the league right now.
Travis finished with a double-double of 19 points and 19 rebounds, while Jalalon, Lee and Barroca combined for 44 points in Magnolia’s 83-73 win over Alaska last Oct. 14.
That enabled Magnolia to improve to 7-1, half a game ahead of defending champion Barangay Ginebra.
“Happy talaga ako ngayon. Maganda ang inilalaro ng mga guards namin,” Victolero told sportswriters in an interview after the game.
“Maayos talaga at mataas ang kumpiyansa nila (point guards) ngayon, especially Jio, Paul and Marc,” added Victolero.
In the 4:30 p.m. curtainraiser, Rain or Shine resumes its climb as it takes on winless Columbian Dyip in a match that coach Caloy Garcia said they “could not treat lightly.”
After an embarrassing 0-4 start, the E-Painters have won their last two games and need only to win over the lowly Dyip tonight to gain a tie for the No. 8 spot with San Miguel Beer.
They are facing a Columbian team which seems to can’t wait enough to get their woeful season over.
But Garcia is also wide enough to caution his boys from being over-complacent.