Games Wednesday
(Ninoy Aquino Stadium)
4:30 p.m. — Rain or Shine vs NorthPort
7:30 p.m. — Magnolia vs Blackwater

There’s a lot of positive vibes inside the Magnolia camp.

After a stumbling 1-2 start, the Hotshots have gained traction especially on defense and racked up back-to-back wins over NorthPort, 104-97, and Phoenix, 107-93, to leap to solo third in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup at 3-2.

A major factor in this resurgence is the return-to-form of star slotman Ian Sangalang. In tip-top shape after his recovery from the thyroid illness that sidelined him for most of 2023, Mr. Sangalang had a career high 32 with 13 rebounds as the Hotshots stopped the streaking Batang Pier then turned in 23-9-5 versus Phoenix.

Now within striking distance of the coveted Top 2 and twice-to-beat incentive, the Hotshots look to sustain this charge.

Standing between them and Win No. 4 in Wednesday’s 7:30 p.m. encounter at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium is Blackwater (3-4), a squad on a spiral but one that’s never to be underestimated.

“If you’re not prepared or if you relax, even if you’re the No. 1 team or an elite team, your opponent will kill you,”  Mr. Chito Victolero said.

This they better do; otherwise the hungry Bossing are ready to pounce. Jeff Cariaso’s charges, who opened the tournament with 3-0, are eager to get back on track after dropping their last four games.

Meanwhile, resurgent Rain or Shine (4-4) and skidding NorthPort (4-3) dispute that crucial fifth victory in their 4:30 p.m. tussle.

Winner between the Elasto Painters, unbeaten in their last four matches, and the Batang Pier, winless in their last two, moves closer to a guaranteed seat to the quarterfinals. — Olmin Leyba