San Miguel Beer and Magnolia Pambansang Manok clash on Wednesday in a rematch of their PBA Philippine Cup titular series that went the distance.
"It's a very important game for us as we don't want to be in the bottom," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria whose charges improved to 2-3 on their 12-point drubbing of the Aces.
The Beermen and the Hotshots got off to a scrambling start in the Commissioner's Cup, but both have since recovered and both back in high spirits going to their 7 p.m. match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Charles Rhodes and the Beermen brandished the old SMB form as they clobbered the Alaska Milk Aces, 119-107, while the Hotshots have shaken off a 0-2 start, winning their last three games against the NLEX Road Warriors, the Columbian Dyip and the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters.
SMB coach Leo Austria was thankful they were able to get back on the winning track the last time out despite the absence of Terrence Romeo and Chris Ross limited to 13 minutes of action after suffering a strained calf.
Alex Cabagnot picked up the slack as he exploded for 31 points, with Matt Ganuelas-Rosser helping in doing the point guard chores with defense and in being a facilitator.
The Hotshots are in better shape at 3-2.
"Mahirap dahil sunod-sunod ang laro. Pero unti-unti bumabalik na ang rhythm. Hopefully, mas gumanda pa ang laro sa mga susunod na laro," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.
"We have a tough game coming up against San Miguel. Kailangan namin ng magandang preparasyon. But at least maganda na ang nilalaro namin, especially on defense," Victolero added.
The two teams engaged in a classic championship series in the all-Filipino tourney, with the Beermen retaining the crown in beating the Hotshots down the stretch in the deciding Game Seven.
A crucial addition to Magnolia in this tourney is the comebacking Marc Pingris although he is not yet expected to play long minutes yet.
"He's ready to go but his problem is he's still to recover his basketball rhythm, game shape and condition. Unti-unti lang and I've explained it to him," said Victolero.
Versus Phoenix Pulse, Pingris played seven minutes and 56 seconds, and came through with three rebounds. He missed his lone field attempt, and committed a foul and an error. (SB)