Magnolia looks to keep streak going against well-rested NLEX

Magnolia has put its rough start aside and is now looking to keep the ball rolling when it tries to improve to a .500 mark against NLEX in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, Feb. 16.

Mark Barroca has been leading the charge for Magnolia. (PBA Images)

Tip-off of the huge collision between the two strong contending teams is at 6:45 p.m. with the Hotshots riding the crest of their masterful 118-88 victory over rival Barangay Ginebra Kings last Sunday, Feb. 12, while the Road Warriors are looking to rebound from their 114-111 loss which also came at the hands of the defending champions.

Serving as an appetizer to the mouth-watering collision is the battle between Rain or Shine and Terrafirma in the opening game at 4:30 p.m. as the two squads aim to move up in the middle pack of the standings.

Momentum, obviously, is on the side of Magnolia as after opening the conference with a 0-3 start found a new breath of life and strung two straight victories following the arrival of import Antonio Hester.

“Sabi ko nga nung umpisa, medyo mahirap sa amin kasi we faced an elite team we don't have any chance na magkaroon ng adjustment kasi we faced Converge, TNT and San Miguel right away and then we had problem with my import and without our main guy in the post si Ian also so yun yung naging problema,” Magnolia head coach Chito Victolero said of his team’s sluggish start.

“I don't want to make an excuse pero yun ‘yung naging big factor kasi we really have to change ‘yung sistema namin kasi without Ian (Sanagalang), we really had a hard time dun sa tinatakbo namin and now with import in Hester I think nakukuha namin yung rhythm namin on both ends,” he added.

Speaking of adjustments, though, the Road Warriors should benefit from their eight-day break with new import Wayne Selden Jr. having the chance to get himself more accustomed to the system of coach Frankie Lim.

The former NBA player immediately showed his caliber in his first game, picking up the slack from the departure of Jonathon Simmons with an impressive debut of 43 points, seven rebounds and seven assists and could only get better as he develops the chemistry with his teammates to help the squad improve its 4-1 record.

Meanwhile in the opening game, the Elasto Painters are also hoping to build on their breakthrough 122-117 win against Blackwater Bossing last Sunday.

The Rain or Shine defense though is surely be tested anew as after successfully limiting high-scoring Blackwater import Troy Williams last time out will now need to put the clamps on the league’s best scorer in Terrafirma’s Jordan Williams who is averaging 40 points per outing.