TNT only has one goal in mind: to formalize its quarterfinal seat in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
But getting there won’t be easy.
Standing on the KaTropa’s path to the next round is a desperate Magnolia squad in what is expected to be another slam-bang affair at Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday at 7 p.m.
Coach Nash Racela is planning to finally unleash import Joshua Smith to his full potential after getting limited minutes in his first two games.
“He'll get used to playing longer minutes,” the soft-spoken mentor said after limiting the burly reinforcement to just 21.74 minutes in wins against Columbian and NLEX.
Smith, who arrived in the country late last month, has gotten more chances to integrate with this new-look KaTropa crew and is looking to do more than his averages of 17.5 points and 8.0 rebounds.
At 6-1, a win secures TNT’s slot in the next round.
Hotshots coach Chito Victolero also hopes to see more from import Justin Jackson, who had decent numbers in his debut against Columbian but struggled from the stripe.
In the first game, resurgent San Miguel welcomes back Christian Standhardinger from his 2018 Fiba 3x3 World Cup stint as the Beermen try to extend their winning run to four against GlobalPort at 4:30 p.m.
The Fil-German forward has missed the last two games for the Beermen due to a knee injury, and his arrival is a big boost for the Grand Slam-seeking squad as they move on from their horrendous 0-3 start this conference.
“We realized na we're not playing at par, to the level that we've been in the semifinals last all-Filipino Conference,” admitted coach Leo Austria. “Slowly, they understand each other and they know the importance of chemistry. At the same time, those new players are starting to adapt to the system, especially Renaldo (Balkman).”
The Batang Pier, on the other hand, are hoping to snap their two-game losing streak and get themselves back in the playoff race.