STILL WINLESS in the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup after two games, the San Miguel Beermen and Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok look to barge into the win column when they take on separate opponents in league action today at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The Beermen (0-2) play league-leading Blackwater Elite (5-1) in the 4:30 p.m. curtain-raiser while the Hotshots (0-2) take on the NLEX Road Warriors (0-5) in the main game at 7 p.m.
Admitting to still finding its collective groove in the midseason PBA tournament, Philippine Cup champion San Miguel has struggled in its first two games, falling prey to Northport Batang Pier and TNT KaTropa, in that order, with an average losing margin of 23 points.
Returning import Charles Rhodes is leading the way for the Beermen with averages of 23.5 points and 11.5 rebounds with June Mar Fajardo adding 16 points and nine rebounds per ball game.
Reserve guard Von Pessumal is also off to a good start with 17.5 points per game.
But as a team San Miguel has yet to find its rhythm, something it hopes to finally notch when it collides with Blackwater, which has been playing solid ball under new coach Aris Dimaunahan and boosted by import Alex Stepheson (22.2 ppg and 22 rpg) and rookie Ray Parks Jr. (23.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg and 3.3 apg).
Despite their struggles, the Beermen are not deterred by it, recognizing that they have been in similar starts before and just need to put in the needed work and effort to turn things around.
Magnolia, for its part, is out to get into the upswing as well after a rough going to begin its campaign.
Its latest loss came just last Wednesday against Northport, 102-99.
They had a better showing in said game, parading a new import in James Farr, than their opener but the result was similar with the team at the raw end of things.
Ian Sangalang top-scored for Magnolia with 21 points in the loss with Robbie Herndon adding 18.
Mr. Farr had 11 points and 14 rebounds in his PBA debut.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said that despite the loss, the Northport game provided some positives from which they could take cue from.
“We had a good start but just could not sustain it. We were able to recover in the end but just did not have enough time. The team rhythm is not yet there but hopefully come next game we will play better,” Mr. Victolero said postgame.
Out to stop Magnolia is NLEX, itself struggling to five defeats sans a win to this date.
Import Tony Mitchell is leading the squad with numbers of 31 points, 11.7 rebounds and three assists per game.
The Road Warriors recently acquired the services of explosive guard Jericho Cruz in a three-way trade involving Northport and TNT to help their cause. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo