Magnolia targets finals seat


MAGNOLIA goes for the kill against a back-against-the-wall Meralco in Game Five of their best-of-seven semifinals duel in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup on Wednesday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

And Hotshots Coach Chito Victolero is asking his wards to be aggressive in closing out the series.

“It’s really hard to close a series, we need a lot of effort because the other team will be playing very aggressive to stay alive in the series,” Victolero said. “But we’ve learned and we’ll just try to stay focused and recharged and refreshed.”

Magnolia is up 3-1 and will try to end the series at 3 p.m.

Expected to lead the charge for Magnolia are prime Best Player of the Conference candidate Calvin Abueva, Mark Andy Barroca and Ian Sangalang.

Meralco coach Norman Black, however, had some good news on the eve of Game Five—Raymond Almazan has recovered from a knee injury and Trevis Jackson and Jammer Jamito are back after observing health and safety protocols.

“We just have to go out and play our best and get a win,” Black said.

San Miguel Beer, meanwhile, tries to get a 3-2 lead against a potentially shorthanded TNT Tropang Giga in Game Five of their own best-of-seven semifinals showdown.

But for Game Four hero Moala Tautuaa, it doesn’t matter whether TNT plays with a complete line-up or not during their 6 p.m. duel. What matters, he stressed, is that they should play their best just like in their rout of the Tropang Giga, 116-90, last Sunday that level the series at 2-2.

“We just have to keep our focus on the game. We just have to give our best whoever we play or whoever will perform at any given time,” the 32-year-old Tautuaa said.

The 6-foot-8 Tautuaa posted 25 points, 19 in the first half, and hauled down nine rebounds in Game Four.

TNT’s JP Erram (suspected fractured cheekbone) and Kelly Williams (health and safety protocols) are game day decisions for TNT.

BLACKWATER acquired veteran playmaker Jayvee Casio and 6-foot-6 power forward Kevin Barkley Eboñia from Alaska in in exchange for go-to-guy guard Mike Tolomia and the Bossing’s 2023 second round pick, Head Coach Ariel Vanguardia said on Tuesday.

The trade, Vanguardia said, only needs the approval of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Office.

Vanguardia has been rebuilding the Elite and got Rashawn McCarthy from Terrafirma for trigger happy Simon Enciso last September 28.

“I am a little bit excited about getting the missing pieces of our team,” said Vanguardia, stressing that 2011 top overall pick Casio would provide backcourt leadership and mentorship to the Bossing in the next conference.

“His experience with Gilas Pilipinas and the championship with Alaska are going to be beneficial for us in the long run,” he said. “I would like him to mentor Baser [Amer].”

“We got Eboñia because we do not have enough big guys after Kelly Nabong underwent a left knee surgery to remove some bone spurs,” he added.

He also acquired Filipino-American guard Val Chauca from the free agency last month.

Blackwater lost all its 11 games in the Philippine Cup. 

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