JUMBO Plastic Linoleum gets a tough test when it battles Blackwater Sports on Thursday in the PBA D-League Aspirants Cup at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
The Giants begin their stretch against title contenders with a match against the Foundation Cup titlist Elite in their 2 p.m. encounter.
The Jumbo Plastic-Blackwater Sports tussle is the second game of a tripleheader before the league takes a break for Christmas.
Jumbo Plastic has won two straight and enters the match in joint third place with Hog’s Breath Café with a 7-2 win-loss slate, only percentage points behind league-leading Big Chill (9-1), and NLEX (4-1).
Giants coach Stevenson Tiu sees their game against Blackwater Sports as a gauge on how much the team has improved, with four games remaining on their schedule.
“Real test itong mga succeeding games,” said Tiu. “After Blackwater, NLEX na ang susunod. Dito na mate-test kung hanggang saan ang team ko.”
The top two teams advance outright to the semifinals with the next two teams holding twice-to-beat advantages in the quarterfinals.
Led by big men Jan Colina, Marion Magat, and Jason Ballesteros, Jumbo Plastic beat Derulo Accelero, 73-61, on Tuesday, getting a huge boost in morale ahead of the match against Blackwater.
Blackwater Sports, which owns a 4-2 win-loss slate, returns to the court after more than two weeks off. The Elite were given a break as Kevin Ferrer and Jericho Cruz saw action for Sinag Pilipinas in the 2013 Southeast Asian Games.
Head coach Leo Isaac is concerned about the big men of Jumbo Plastic, saying former pro and Gilas Pilipinas member poses a huge threat.
“Their big men are really imposing their size so that’s the challenge for us. The key for us is to stop Ballesteros. If we could keep him away from his comfort zone we might have a shot,” Isaac said.
In other games, Big Chill looks to solidify its hold of first place before the Christmas break as the Superchargers go for their fourth straight victory against Wangs Basketball at 12 p.m.
Boracay Rum tackles Zambales M-Builders in the third game at 4 p.m.
Team standings: Big Chill 9-1, NLEX 4-1, Hog’s Breath 7-2, Jumbo Plastic 7-2, Cagayan Valley 7-3, Café France 7-3, Blackwater Sports 4-2, Wangs Basketball 4-5, Boracay Rum 3-5, Cebuana Lhuillier 2-4, Zambales M-Builders 2-7, Arellano-Air21 1-8, Derulo Accelero 1-9, NU-BDO 0-6.