Meralco hard-pressed to win against Magnolia to live another day

Feb 23, 2018

Magnolia and Meralco slug it out in the last Petron Blaze Saturday Special in the PBA Philippine Cup elimination round, with the former making its final assault at a Top Two finish and the latter fighting to stay alive at the Xavier U Gym in Cagayan de Oro.

It's a must-win game for both.

The Hotshots need to win for a closing 8-3 win-loss mark in the elims and a chance at a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.

The Bolts, meanwhile, must prevail to cling on to their slim hopes for a playoff shot at the last Final Eight berth.

Thus they are likely to engage in a humdinger of a ball game in the third to the last three play dates in the single-round-robin elims. Tipoff is at 5 p.m.

Obviously, the Bolts have more urgency to win.

"The game versus the Hotshots will be a playback of what we have seen in our last two games against Phoenix and Ginebra. Once again, it's do or die for us," said Meralco coach Norman Black.

"So we will have to limit our turnovers versus the pressure defense of Magnolia while also trying to limit their big men off the boards," Black also said. "Slowing down the backcourt of Paul Lee and Mark Barroca will also be a big concern."

The Bolts have survived two KO games on a 92-90 nipping of the Fuel Masters then an 84-82 stunner over the Gin Kings.

The Hotshots, meanwhile, are coming off a stirring 96-83 triumph over the GlobalPort Hotshots.

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Magnolia's goal in Cagayan de Oro is to arrest a slump in out-of-town tussles.

"Four-game losing streak kami sa out-of-town. Hopefully, mapatid na namin 'yun streak because it's a very important game. We need to win it to solidify our chances for the Top Two," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.