Hotshots, Fuel Masters gun for quick semifinal clincher

Hotshots, Fuel Masters gun for quick semifinal clincher

Games Wednesday
PhilSports Arena
4 p.m. — Phoenix vs Meralco
8 p.m. — Magnolia vs TNT
*Phoenix, Magnolia with twice-to-beat advantage

THE FIRST part of the mission — getting win-once advantage in the playoffs — is done with.

Now it’s time for top seed Magnolia and No. 4 Phoenix to reap the fruits of their hard work throughout the PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations.

The Hotshots go for the quick semifinal clincher against No. 8 TNT while the Fuel Masters seek the same against No. 5 Meralco as the playoffs fire off today at the PhilSports Arena.

Magnolia and Phoenix know exactly what it entails to finish off their respective opponents with twice-to-win disadvantage and arrange a semifinal duel.

“We’re going to have to work our butts off,” said Fuel Masters coach Jamike Jarin on the eve of their 4 p.m. showdown with the back-against-the-wall Bolts.

“We have to double our efforts. If they’re going to come in at 100 percent, we should come in at 120,” he added.

That’s exactly what’s on the mind of Meralco counterpart Luigi Trillo.

“The key is for us to play ‘playoff basketball.’ We have to throw everything at them, including the kitchen sink,” he said.

Magnolia mentor Chito Victolero, whose charges have held pole position all along, stressed the playoffs are a whole new ballgame.

TNT vows to compete like it always does all-tournament long, even with a depleted crew. RR Pogoy’s return from heart ailment in their quarters-clinching 116-96 win over Phoenix last Sunday added firepower to Jojo Lastimosa’s team in time for the playoffs run.

“One thing we’ve been consistent with this season is we’re been competing. We were not out of the games; it just so happened we didn’t have the exact lineup we wanted. And now Roger’s there. I’m hoping we have enough guys to play down the stretch,” said Mr. Lastimosa. — Olmin Leyba