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    Racela feels more lenient refs an advantage for Magnolia's pressure defense

    Jan 27, 2018
    Nash Racela and TNT are looking for a third successive win. Jerome Ascano

    TWO of the deepest backcourt rotations in the PBA face off as Magnolia and TNT KaTropa seek to sustain their respective streaks in their Philippine Cup matchup on Saturday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

    The Hotshots, led by Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, and Jio Jalalon, try to execute their stingy full-court defense on a Texters side bannered by Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, RR Garcia, and Ryan Reyes.

    The Hotshots seek to stretch their winning run to four games and win their fifth in six games overall that would solidify their hold on the second spot, while the Texters aim for their third straight win and fourth in six games in their matchup that tips off at 6:45 p.m.

    “I feel the way the game is being officiated now, it favors Magnolia with the way they pressure the ball-handlers, and the way they trap,” TNT coach Nash Racela said, considering the league has allowed players more freedom in terms of physicality. “It's gonna be tough for us.”

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    While the guards are the focal point, both teams have benefited from the emergence of a wingman and a stretch forward in the Hotshots’ Rome dela Rosa and Troy Rosario of the Texters.

    Dela Rosa shone on both ends in the Hotshots’ 97-91 win over Phoenix last Saturday, while Rosario caught fire to spark TNT’s 99-81 blowout of sister squad Meralco last Sunday.

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    “I think they're really playing at a high level,” Racela said of Magnolia. “Definitely, one of the best teams that we have here in the league. So again, it will take our best to be able to at least match up with them and give ourselves a good chance.”

    Alaska, which, like Magnolia, has won its last three games to negate a 0-2 start, look to likewise keep riding the momentum as it takes the court earlier at 4:30 p.m. against a Blackwater team that seeks to arrest a two-game slide to move back to .500 at 3-3.

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    Nash Racela and TNT are looking for a third successive win. Jerome Ascano
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