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Sports

Dragons, Hotshots eye semis

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — They have the luxury of a “double shot” at the PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal round but top seed Bay Area and No. 2 Magnolia would rather advance in one take.

The Dragons, who dropped only two games in the 12-match elims en route to the coveted position and win-once bonus, seek to finish off eighth-ranked quarterfinalist Rain or Shine in today’s 3 p.m. curtain raiser at the PhilSports Arena.

The Hotshots, who also carded 10-2, carry the same objective versus No. 7 Phoenix in the 5:45 p.m. main setto.

After torching the opposition in the preliminaries, the Hong Kong club gets its first taste of the “playoff basketball” in the PBA and intends to emerge unscathed in the end.

Six-foot-10 Andrew Nicholson, who averaged a league-high 38.5 points to go with 11.5 rebounds in his earlier four-game stint, returns to active duty vice explosive guard Myles Powell as Bay Area tackles the survival-of-the-fittest stage.

“I always look at the playoffs with the mindset of a baseball player – you step up the plate and you swing,” Bay Area coach Brian Goorjian said on the Power and Play program on Radyo Singko.

“We didn’t come here to get in and clap. We’ve had a good season; now let’s play. This is an opportunity to show what we are and what we’ve built,” added Goorjian ahead of the duel with the underdog but tough Elasto Painters, who had to get past NLEX in a rubbermatch for No. 8, 110-100, to make it this far.

Intending to be as business-like in gunning for a quick Last-4 ticket are the Hotshots.

“Wala pa kaming na-achieve. This is just 20 percent of our goal. We just met the initial goal of getting the twice-to-beat incentive and our next goal is makarating sa semis,” said Magnolia’s Chito Victolero.

“But we need to prepare hard against Phoenix. They’re playing great right now. Importante we have to respect the players and the organization of Phoenix,” he added.

Sparked by the heads-up plays of import Kaleb Wesson and young guns Tyler Tio and Encho Serrano, the Fuel Masters have shown their toughness and resilience in overcoming a woeful 0-3 start to string up five straight wins and salvage a spot in the quarters with a 6-6 record overall.

Victolero is counting on hard-working reinforcement Nick Rakocevic and seasoned locals Paul Lee, Ian Sangalang, Marc Barroca and Calvin Abueva to do what they do best and help Magnolia pull through.

Notes: Converge yesterday named Pampanga Gov. Delta Pineda as the FiberXers’ new team manager and Franzi Jacob Lao as his assistant. According to Converge governor Atty. Chito Salud, Pineda and Lao will assume their positions at the start of the Governors’ Cup.

PBA

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