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PBA: Hotshots eye 4th win

Games Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:15 p.m. – Alaska vs Blackwater
7 p.m. – Star vs Phoenix

The Star Hotshots look to continue their dominance over the Phoenix Fuel Masters and win a fourth straight game tonight in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Rust may play a role in the Hotshots’ bid to keep their status as the only unbeaten team in the season-ending conference but will treat the 19-day break as an advantage rather than a detriment in the 7 p.m. faceoff with the Fuel Masters.

Star has won all four meetings with Phoenix this season by an average margin of 28.5 points per game, and facing the Hotshots may come at a wrong time for the Fuel Masters.

Phoenix has dropped four in a row after a 2-0 start, including Friday’s 107-104 loss to Meralco after squandering a 15-point third quarter lead, spoiling the debuts of import Brandon Brown and veteran shooter Jeff Chan.

Brown fired 38 points in his first game as a fill-in for the injured Eugene Phelps, while Chan had 27 points after being acquired from Rain or Shine.

The Hotshots return with the hope of finally getting more familiar with Malcolm Hill, who despite being a first-time pro at 21 years old is a bit of an improvement from original import Cinmeon Bowers.

Coach Chito Victolero’s locals have been solid since the tournament began, with southpaw Ian Sangalang having one of his finest conferences of his four-year career.

The former San Sebastian center is averaging 16.0 points and 8.0 rebounds this conference, and came off an 18-point, 11-rebound performance in the 104-98 victory over Grand Slam-seeking San Miguel last Aug. 4.

Meanwhile, Blackwater and Alaska meet in the 4:15 p.m. opener in a battle of two teams with contrasting fortunes.

The Elite have won their last two games following a 0-3 start, including Friday’s shock 107-106 triumph over the NLEX Road Warriors. The arrival of Henry Walker as a replacement for injured import Trevis Simpson have made Blackwater believe that winning games are a possibility, even against the playoff teams.

While Blackwater’s confidence is on a high, Alaska seems to be lacking such notion after 12 straight defeats dating back to the Commissioner’s Cup, including a 0-4 start this conference.

Aces coach Alex Compton hopes to finally see the light at the end of the tunnel.