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PBA: Racela debuts with KaTropa

Games Tomorrow
(Smart Araneta)
4:15 p.m. – Blackwater vs ROS
7 p.m. – Meralco vs TNT

TNT KaTropa tries to extend its winning streak to three even as Blackwater and Rain or Shine aim to rebound from recent defeats when the three teams take the spotlight in today’s doubleheader in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The three are currently in a six-way tie atop the leaderboard at 2-1 with GlobalPort, Phoenix Fuel, and defending champion San Miguel Beer, making these two matches exciting as they aim for the early lead.

The surprising Elite and the Elasto Painters collide in the first game at 4:15 p.m., while the KaTropa meet the Governors’ Cup first runner up Meralco Bolts (1-1) in the main game at 7 p.m.

After losing its opening game to ROS, TNT has won its last two assignments by beating Governors’ Cup champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (108-103) and then handing Blackwater’s first defeat after a 2-0 start (99-92).

Jayson Castro has finally suited up in the Ginebra game and scored 20 points that matched the offensive production of Mo Tautuaa.

“We need to come out every time with the right things in mind, intensity wise, energy wise and pride wise,” said assistant coach Josh Reyes, who called the shots in the first three games as coach Nash Racela was still with Far Eastern University in the UAAP.

Racela, younger brother of ex-pro and current Ginebra assistant coach Olsen Racela, appointed by management as replacement to coach Jong Uichico, is expected to make his coaching debut tonight.

TNT will face a Meralco side that is fresh from its win against NLEX, 106-93, that saw last year’s Rookie of the Year Chris Newsome collect 28 points and 10 rebounds while rookie Ed Daquioag added 23 points off the bench.

Equally exciting is the match up between Rain or Shine and Blackwater.

While the Elite are nursing that loss to TNT, the Painters will try to bounce back from an 81-74 defeat to Ginebra last week – the team’s first setback this season after a 2-0 start under coach Caloy Garcia.

“It’s a test of our character,” said Blackwater coach Leo Isaac. “We’re coming off a loss and we hope to bounce back from that defeat. It’s going to be a tough game, we are facing one of the top teams in the league in Rain or Shine.”

Blackwater will continue to rely on rookie forward Mac Belo, who averages 21 points and eight rebounds in three games, while backing him up are Art dela Cruz, Raffy Banal, Denok Miranda, Reil Cervantes, Riego Gamalinda, Raymond Aguilar and Ronjay Buenafe.

As for ROS, leading the charge are former two-time MVP James Yap, mainstays Jericho Cruz, Maverick Ahanmisi, Beau Belga, Jeff Chan, Gabe Norwood, Chris Tiu, Raymond Almazan and Jewel Ponferada.

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