(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Phoenix vs Rain or Shine
7 p.m. – Blackwater vs TNT KaTropa
Blackwater’s newfound status as a team on a rise following its upset of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel will be put to the test anew when it takes on TNT KaTropa tonight in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elite are out to show that their 114-97 triumph over last season’s Governors’ Cup champion was no fluke and register their best four-game start in franchise history in the 7 p.m. match with the struggling KaTropa.
Coach Leo Isaac called on his team not to rest on its laurels as they go for a third victory in four games and tie idle Magnolia for solo second in the standings.
“We have to emphasize that we have to start from scratch and forget about this victory (against Ginebra),” Isaac said after Friday’s defeat of Ginebra. “Never rest on what you have accomplished. We have to continue striving every day and every game.”
Isaac and company are bracing for another tough battle, this time against a KaTropa team that fell to the defending champion San Miguel Beermen, 88-76, Saturday night in Iloilo City.
TNT led for most of the way until it lost steam in the fourth quarter and fell to 1-2 after three games this conference.
JP Erram, who had 22 points and 11 rebounds against Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, is expected to be a marked man as the rising star gets a chance to showcase his best form against the team that drafted him in the second round of the 2013 draft.
Allein Maliksi, Mac Belo, Mike DiGregorio, rookie Raymar Jose are also expected to continue their strong start to the season against a KaTropa bannered by Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, RR Pogoy, Kelly Williams and Mo Tautuaa.
Also seeking a share of second with Magnolia is Phoenix, which returns from a 10-day rest against Rain or Shine in the first game at 4:30 p.m.
The Fuel Masters are coming off a 102-95 win over the NLEX Road Warriors last Jan. 7 behind new coach Louie Alas’ trademark pressure defense and contributions from Matthew Wright, Jeff Chan, RJ Jazul and rookie Jason Perkins that allowed them to turn the contest in their favor.
Injuries have hounded the campaign of Rain or Shine, which also has a 1-2 record, with Jericho Cruz, Jay Washington and Chris Tiu missing either one or all of those games.
Elasto Painters coach Caloy Garcia said Tiu, who rested his knee in Rain or Shine’s 78-70 defeat to GlobalPort Friday, is expected to be back today, Cruz could return on Saturday against Kia while Washington may suit up next month.