Coach Chito Victolero hopes Magnolia has learned some valuable lessons after his team's upset loss to Meralco last week. He has spent Magnolia's week-long break addressing some of the lapses ahead of Friday's game against TNT at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Magnolia, looking to clinch a top-four berth, will be facing a familiar face in Marqus Blakely. Blakely is best remembered for leading the Purefoods franchise to the Governors' Cup titles in 2013 and 2014 when the team was still coached by Tim Cone.
Blakely, a former PBA Best Import, last played for the Purefoods franchise in the 2016 season under coach Jason Webb. He has since moved on to play for TNT this conference, averaging solid numbers of 25 points, 16.3 rebounds and 6.6 assists in his first three games.
Magnolia is looking to break away from a three-way tie with Ginebra and Alaska atop the Governors' Cup standings. The Hotshots will try to notch its eighth win and seal a top-four seat and the twice-to-beat advantage the berth holds going into the playoffs.
Pambansang Manok's 94-88 loss to the Bolts last week snapped their five-game winning streak. The KaTropa are also coming off a loss after losing 107-96 to the San Miguel Beermen in their road game in Calasiao, Pangasinan.
Import Romeo Travis, Paul Lee, Mark Barroca and Jio Jalalon will be at the forefront for Magnolia. But TNT, now with a 4-5 record, won't take things easy as the team tries to stay alive for a playoff berth with two games left in its elimination round schedule.
Other teams still in contention for a playoff spot include San Miguel (5-4), NLEX (4-5) and NLEX (4-6), which faces Alaska in the opening game at 4:30 p.m.