Meralco def Magnolia, 74-51 [PBA S48 PH Cup | Apr. 28, 2024]

Anticipate nothing short of a fierce battle when Magnolia and Meralco, both fighting tooth and nail, clash on Sunday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the PhilSports Arena.

The 3 p.m. showdown will see the Bolts vying for a second consecutive victory to bring their record to an even 5-5, while the Hotshots are determined to bounce back and improve to 6-3, aiming to secure a spot among the top eight teams advancing to the next round.

With a loss, Magnolia finds themselves in a tough spot, needing to sweep their remaining three eliminations games, including matches against Terrafirma on Friday and TNT two days later, to reach eight wins and clinch a top two position with a win-once advantage in the quarterfinals.

However, even a clean sweep may not be sufficient for Magnolia, as they also rely on hoping that previous adversaries Barangay Ginebra and NLEX, standing at 6-3 and 5-3 respectively, do not reach seven wins.

Should the Hotshots fall short of achieving eight wins, they can only aspire to secure a place between third and sixth, setting them up for best-of-three matchups in the next round.

Coach Victolero’s immediate focus is on the present, stating, “We’re not in the quarterfinals yet, so that’s our current target.”

Meanwhile, Meralco faces a similar challenge. Following their 82-76 triumph over Phoenix Super LPG, bringing their record to 4-5, the Bolts must secure victories against the Hotshots and the Beermen on Saturday to cement a spot in the top six.

Both teams may have key players nursing injuries, with Magnolia missing Jio Jalalon and Calvin Abueva’s status uncertain due to a right knee problem that limited his playing time against SMB.

Meralco also contends with Allein Maliksi, Chris Newsome, and Cliff Hodge battling knee issues.

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