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With playoff hopes in peril, Magnolia shifts to win-now mode

As far as Magnolia coach Chito Victolero is concerned, the playoffs start on Wednesday.

The Pambansang Manok's hopes of advancing to the next round are currently hanging in the balance after dropping their last three contests in the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup.

At 3-4, Magnolia enters the Wednesday match against the red-hot TNT squad tied with GlobalPort at the seventh to eighth spots in the standings.

Victolero has challenged his wards to take on a win-now mentality even though they are still adjusting to their new import Justin Jackson.

"We're now in playoff mode because for us, this (game against TNT) is the start of the playoffs," Victolero said. "Another loss will make our playoff chances slimmer."

Magnolia, now without its veteran big men Marc Pingris (ACL tear on his knee) and Ian Sangalang (fractured finger) has gone 0-2 with import Curtis Kelly, who came in to replace Vernon Macklin. The skid prompted the coaching staff to send Kelly home and bring in Jackson, who debuted with 21 points, 13 rebounds and six assists in Magnolia's 103-99 loss to Alaska last Sunday.

But the Magnolia mentor isn't losing hope, aware that the team still holds its own fate as far as their playoff chances are concerned.

"It's just important for us to execute well both on offense and defense. But we also know that TNT is on a roll now with Terrence (Romeo) and Jericho (Cruz) adjusting and jelling well with guys like (Jayson) Castro, (RR) Pogoy and Troy Rosario," he added.

The Katropa, meanwhile, are coming off a 12-day respite to give way to the FIBA 3x3 World Cup where Rosario and Pogoy were selected to represent the Philippines, along with GlobalPort's Stanley Pringle and San Miguel rookie Christian Standhardinger.

TNT is currently tied with Alaska at 6-1 after beating Columbian and NLEX behind returning import Josh Smith.