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PBA: TnT, Kia eye 3rd win

Matt Ganuelas-Rosser of TNT dunks the ball against Romeo Travis of Alaska during the PBA action at Ynares Center Antipolo City.   Photo by Tony PionillaGames Today (Cuneta Astrodome)
4:15 p.m. – Kia vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – NLEX vs Talk ’N Text

Talk ‘N Text and Kia look to create a three-way tie for second place with Alaska when they face separate rivals today in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

Kia collides with fellow expansion team Blackwater at 4:15 p.m. while Talk ‘N Text battles sister team NLEX in the nightcap set at 7 p.m.

The Carnival and the Tropang Texters share third to fourth places at 2-1, behind the second-running Aces (3-1).

TNT and Kia are coming off thrilling victories last May 18 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City to boost their respective title bids in the season-ending conference.

Kia beat NLEX, 85-82, on Hyram Bagatsing’s triple with one second remaining while Talk ‘N Text dealt Alaska its first loss, 104-103.

Manny Pacquiao, Kia’s player-coach, is expected to show up for the Carnival against the Elite according to assistant Chito Victolero, while Jayson Castro is a doubtful starter for the Texters against the Road Warriors due to a right ankle injury.

PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals Most Valuable Player Ranidel de Ocampo saw action in TNT’s narrow win over Alaska, scoring 13 points after missing the first two games with a knee injury.

The Kia-Blackwater duel will mark the third meeting of the pro debutants this season.

Kia beat Blackwater, 80-66, in the season-opener last Oct. 19 in front of 52,000 fans at the Philippine Arena in Bulacan before Blackwater exacted revenge with a 115-104 victory in the Commissioner’s Cup last Feb. 28 at The Arena in San Juan.

Things are expected to be difficult for Kia against Blackwater, which stunned Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 83-77, last May 16 in Dipolog City despite entering the game with a string of lopsided defeats.

“Our mindset is to win to keep pace with the leaders,” said Victolero. “We prepared hard for this game, because we know that Blackwater is a motivated team after their win against Ginebra,” said Victolero.

A concern for Victolero will be Blackwater import Marcus Douthit, who averaged 24.3 points and 15 rebounds in four games.

Tasked with guarding Douthit is Kia’s 7-foot reinforcement Hamady N’Diaye. The Senegalese center had averaged 20 points and 15.5 rebounds in his first two games but was held to just six points and eight boards against NLEX.

“We’ve worked on his conditioning, that’s the only thing that is a concern with H (Hamady). But defense and offense, he knows what to do. In the last eight days we worked on his conditioning,” said Victolero.