Mar 21, 2019

Hotshots seek to firm up bid; Elite eye triumphant exit

Though Blackwater is out of the running for the playoffs, Magnolia Pambansang Manok coach Chito Victolero said they would leave nothing to chance, promising to go hard in their hope to firm up their bid.

"We will not take them for granted," said Victolero ahead of the Magnolia-Blackwater setto where the Hotshots seek to fortify their spots in the Top Eight in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations.

Opening tip is at 7 p.m. at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo, with the Hotshots eyeing to break out of a three-way logjam at sixth place with the NLEX Road Warriors and the Alaska Milk Aces at 5-5.

The Elite, meanwhile, look for a triumphant exit in the tourney, seeking a closing 3-8 card.

Blackwater coach Bong Ramos vows to do their best to win the game then leave their fate to team owner Dioceldo Sy who has hinted at a major overhaul of the team because of their poor showing in the tourney.

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"Hindi pwedeng biruin iyan. Hindi nila basta ibibigay ang game, kailangan namin kunin sa kanila yan," said Victolero.

The Magnolia bench chieftain knows his players are physically drained from their grind-out win over the NorthPort Batang Pier just Wednesday night, but he still expects them to come out in a proper mindset against the Elite.

"Sabi ko nga kay Paul (Lee), pagkatapos na ng laro natin against Blackwater tayo magpahinga," said Victolero.

The Hotshots are in a must-win situation in their two remaining games especially as they're hoping to finish in the Top Six for an outright quarters passage and a quarters matchup not against the top seed or the second seed.

Magnolia eyes a spot in the best-of-three quarters and not against an opponent with a twice-to-beat advantage.

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The Hotshots can only achieve that goal if they sweep their last two games against Blackwater and NLEX.

After their back-to-back games versus NorthPort and Blackwater, the Hotshots get a welcome breather before returning to play against the Road Warriors already after the All-Star break.

Victolero, however, said they only have the Elite in their minds at the moment. (SB)