Two teams moving in opposite directions are bound to meet this Wednesday, as the Magnolia Hotshots eye another win to set themselves up for the upcoming playoffs, while the Blackwater Elite hope to end their PBA bubble experience on a positive note.
Catch this game live on November 11 at 4:00 pm, Manila time.
The Magnolia Hotshots (6-4)
After successive losses in the early goings of the conference, the Hotshots suddenly flipped the switch and started winning in bunches. They are now on a five-game unbeaten run after defeating the NorthPort Batang Pier last Sunday, 83-76.
That switch? That’s no other than Paul Lee, who’s been on fire of late. Although he scored just 14 points in the NorthPort game, he was sizzling in a prior win against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, where he exploded for 31 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field, including three triples.
Lee enters Magnolia’s last game of the elimination round with averages of 20.9 points on 46% FG and 3.3 three-pointers per contest on 43% 3FG. Just imagine what he can do against Blackwater, who seem to think that playing defense is just an option. The Elite have given up at least 100 points in two of their last four games, during which they have allowed 95.25 points per contest.
But it’s not just Lee that the Elite will have to worry about, as Ian Sangalang is also coming off a great game. Sangalang had 23 points and nine rebounds against NorthPort.
The Blackwater Elite (2-8)
Blackwater is reeking of losses as their free fall continues following its 100-95 loss at the hands of the Phoenix Fuel Masters last Sunday. With that loss, the Elite have now dropped their past seven games, a streak they obviously want to snap in their last game.
Blackwater got 21 points from veteran KG Canaleta against Phoenix, but Canaleta isn’t really the main man of the Elite. That’s supposed to be anyone from the likes of Don Trollano and Mac Belo, so the Elite will look for those two to lead the way for them against the streaking Hotshots. Trollano scored 13 points on just 4-of-12 shooting from the field against Phoenix, while Belo had 17 on an inefficient 6-of-15 shooting.
The Elite’s frontcourt also has to step up after the team got outrebounded by Phoenix, 67-46. If anything, it appears boxing out the Hotshots will be an easier task for Blackwater, as Magnolia is second-worst in this conference with just 42.0 rebounds per game. Blackwater are also 2-0 in its last two meetings with the Hotshots.
Blackwater’s skid will have to end at some point, and it could be in this game, where they have absolutely nothing to lose anymore.
While Magnolia will want a win for a shot at a top-four seed in the playoffs, they do have their playoff berth confirmed. I think Blackwater sneaks in a win in this game, 94-92.