RE-ADJUSTING their focus and recovering lost momentum are foremost in the minds of Magnolia and NorthPort when they clash today in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City.
Streaking San Miguel Beer and sliding Ginebra collide later in what is expected to be a war of a nightcap.
The opener pits teams that had their bids to immediately follow up big wins stalled by the recent developments inside the league bubble in Pampanga.
Because of some game cancellations, Magnolia will see action only for the first time since a 102-92 win over erstwhile unbeaten Ginebra last Sunday.
A bit longer was the down time NorthPort had since a breakthrough 107-96 victory over Terrafirma last Saturday.
“Ang positive lang na nakikita ko, nakapagpahinga mga players na injured at bugbog na halos. Kumbaga, nagkaroon sila ng additional time to recover,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “Pero sa kabilang banda naman nu’n, kung anong momentum meron ka nang nakuha, siyempre naudlot iyon.”
Victolero spoke after the Hotshots’ game against Blackwater was called off last Wednesday when the league failed to receive the expected approval from the IATF to let the Elite play.
NorthPort became both a beneficiary and an unwitting victim of the cancellation brought about when a Blackwater player tested positive for the coronavirus. More tests proved the unnamed player was negative, but not after the Blackwater-Rain or Shine match last Sunday was first cancelled as well as the NorthPort-TNT game the day after.
The Tropang Giga were the last team to play the Elite last Oct. 22, or two days before the positive result on the player and they were confined to their respective rooms as part of the precautionary measures being undertaken to ensure the bubble’s integrity.
Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang (back) and Rome dela Rosa (knee) should have made full use of the unscheduled rest to fully recover from their injuries.
NorthPort’s Sean Anthony’s right hamstring should also be vastly improved by now, as well as teammate Kevin Ferrer’s foot.
More rest, especially for his veterans, is what SMB coach Leo Austria would have wanted before the expected “war” against Ginebra.
“Alam naman ng lahat na kapag magkalaban kaming dalawa talagang walang bigayan iyan.
It’s always a war,” Austria said.
The defending champion Beermen have won three straight, enabling them to improve to a 4-2 record and catch Ginebra and Phoenix Super LPG at third.
But SMB’s latest victory, an 89-82 decision over Meralco, could come at a cost since that grind-it-out affair was played only last Wednesday.