Edged out by San Miguel Beer the last time out, Magnolia Pambansang Manok seeks to regain winning ways right away to stay in strong contention for the Top Two as the Hotshots slug it out with the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in a Petron Blaze Saturday Special in Calasiao, Pangasinan.
The Hotshots are up against a team which, at 4-3, still has an outside chance of landing in the Top Two.
"We need to focus for this game. It's a very important game for us to solidify our chances for the Top Two," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero ahead of their 5 p.m.showdown with the Elasto Painters at the Calasiao Sports Complex.
"Reminder is to have the proper mindset because there are so many distractions in out-of-town games. We need to have the same aggressiveness that we showed in our last few games because we want to build consistency going into the playoffs," Victolero also said.
At 6-2, the Hotshots are assured of a spot in the playoffs. But they're determined to get more wins for a shot at a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.
Paul Lee's status is day-to-day. Victolero said he would utilize their prized guard only if given the go-signal by their physical therapist.
Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia, however, is not looking far ahead, saying they face an uphill climb just against the Hotshots.
"We are playing against one of the top teams and a team that looks so fluid on both ends of the floor," said Garcia. "It will be tough but we just have to limit our mistakes and have to put more effort on defense for us to have a shot to win."
Rain or Shine's immediate goal is to push its playoff drive. The E-Painters are barely ahead of Phoenix Petroleum (4-4), TNT KaTropa (4-4), Barangay Ginebra (4-4), GlobalPort (3-4) and NLEX (3-4).
And they have their distractions.
One is the tug-of-war at least among four teams for the services of Jericho Cruz.
Garcia is also in the process of patching things up with center Raymond Almazan. (SB)