NLEX and Magnolia are both perked up by a mind-boggling win the last time out versus the same rival as they duke it out in the mainer of a Saturday clash in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Road Warriors are fresh from a grindout 114-108 overtime win over the Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters Thursday. Six nights earlier, the Hotshots blasted the Fuel Masters, 95-77.
What made the NLEX win special was surviving wild momentum swings where it squandered an early 19-point deficit then fighting back from five down inside the final minute of regulation play.
For Magnolia, it was as special as the Hotshots carved out the big rout minus top guns Paul Lee and Calvin Abueva.
And both are coming from a two-game run as the Road Warriors and the Hotshots clash at 7:15 p.m. in this weekend bill.
Abueva will be back in harness, having served a one-game suspension for his misconduct in their 89-84 triumph over the Barangay Ginebra Kings on June 19.
It's tipped to be a fierce duel between two teams close together in the middle of the pack.
Coach Yeng Guiao's NLEX squad is at fifth place with a 4-2 win-loss card while coach Chito Victolero's Hotshots are half-game behind at sixth place at 3-3.
Both are determined to get going to claim a spot in the best-of-three quarterfinals, if a twice-to-beat advantage is already a long shot.
Momentum may be on the Road Warriors, but the Hotshots would come in with fresher legs.
Ian Sangalang punched in 24 markers with eight rebounds while Rome dela Rosa hit a clutch endgame trey as the Hotshots bucked the absence of Lee to start their two-game roll with their five-point decision over the Gin Kings.
Five nights later amid the sidelining of Lee and the one-game ban of Abueva, veteran guard Mark Barroca took charge with 21 points, six assists and five steals to lead their 18-point blasting of the Fuel Masters. (SB)