Magnolia prepared for this game as early as Wednesday night.
And after playing sparingly in a lopsided win the last time out, Vernon Macklin has the legs in his swan song with the Hotshots when they clash with formidable Meralco on Friday night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Playing their third game in less than a week, the Hotshots aren’t up for a breather in their 7 p.m. clash with the Bolts and Arinze Onuaku as they shoot to come out of a hectic schedule unscathed.
Set to part ways with import Jeremy Tyler, TNT KaTropa
(3-1), meanwhile, will try to regroup against skidding Blackwater Elite (0-5) at 4:30 p.m., looking to bounce back from its first loss of the conference.
“We won back-to-back games and we will face an elite team next,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “That’s why I rested (my starters) early (against Columbian).”
Steadily climbing to the top, the Hotshots (2-1) defeated the GlobalPort Batang Pier in an out-of-town sortie and wrecked the Columbian Dyip by 25 points on Wednesday night.
When the Hotshots erected a safe 30-point bulge against Columbian, Victolero began pulling out Macklin and his starters with still a full quarter to go, the beginning of his preparations for the Bolts.
They have to come up with their best form yet against a Meralco (3-1) side that already owns a victory against rock-solid defending champion San Miguel Beer.
In his final game with the Hotshots, the China-bound Macklin also faces the huge challenge of trying to limit the hulking Onuaku in the paint.
Onuaku, the Best Import in the 2016 edition, flexed his might inside by providing the intangibles that weathered the trio of San Miguel bigmen June Mar Fajardo, import Troy Gillenwater and rookie Christian Standhardinger.
“You can see the difference of having a center like Arinze on our team because he helps us control the middle,” said Meralco coach Norman Black. “He fills a big need for us.”
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