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TNT targets share of lead

TNT KaTropa is eyeing a share of the lead when it takes on a skidding Magnolia squad while defending champion San Miguel Beer shoots for a fourth straight win in Season 43 Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup tonight at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

TNT will battle the Hotshots at 7 p.m. while the Beermen meet the Hotshots in the 4:30 p.m. first game.

The KaTropa, currently holding a 6-1 win-loss record and sharing the No. 2 spot with Alaska, aim to tie Rain or Shine (7-1) at the top.

Magnolia is expected to go all out to avoid suffering a fourth consecutive loss.

“Magnolia played better in their last game against Alaska. It looks like they found the import that they need,” TNT coach Nash Racela said, referring to the input of Magnolia’s new import Justin Jackson who replaced Curtis Kelly.

“We just have to focus on matching their energy, and at the same time be able to attack them when they pressure us.”

Veteran combo guard Jayson Castro agrees.

“Everybody knows that Magnolia plays well most of the time. They are struggling but anytime they can comeback, so we have to be ready defensively especially that they have a new import,” said Castro.

Magnolia coach Chito Victolero said that right mentality is the key to survival.

“We’re in a playoff mentality or do-or-die mentality because I think our chances are slipping away so we really need a win,” said Victolero, adding that his team stays optimistic despite a 3-4 win-loss record.

Victolero explained that the absence of big man Ian Sangalang and Jean Marc Pingris is slowing them down.

“Sangalang is very valuable to us since we’re also playing without Ping (Pingris) in this conference. Without Ian, we don’t have presence in the post anymore. So I’m expecting our import Justin Jackson and the rest of the players to step up.”

Jackson finished with 21 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in their Sunday’s loss to Alaska.

Meanwhile, San Miguel Beer is on a roll winning four straight games after a 0-3 start.

GlobalPort coach Pido Jarencio talks about finishing a game strong. The Batang Pier are coming from back-to-back losses for a 3-4 win-loss record.

“We should do our best to contain June Mar (Fajardo) and (Renaldo) Balkman defensively. We should work as a group,” said Jarencio. “Our problem is the finishing kick. We had a lot of games that we were leading. But at the end game, we lost the lead, intensity, and we deteriorate. We must not only be competitive but we also must learn how to finish the game. If we work hard, I believe we’ll be rewarded with luck too.”

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