Full-strength KaTropa plays crucial game against sister team NLEX

By: Inquirer.net February 27,2018 - 10:02 PM

Games today:
Araneta Coliseum
4:30 p.m. TNT vs. NLEX
7 p.m. Rain or Shine vs. San Miguel

TALK ’N TEXT knows it can’t expect any favors from sister team, NLEX.

Fortunately for KaTropa, they will be back at full-strength as they try to keep their quarterfinal hopes alive on Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After missing the past couple of games following a bad fall in the clash with Magnolia, Troy Rosario returns to the lineup, while Jericho Cruz, acquired in a trade with Rain or Shine, is expected to make his debut as the flagship team of the Manny V. Pangilinan bloc hopes to avoid elimination against an NLEX team that has been in inspired form the past three weeks.

Rain or Shine hopes to punch its ticket to the quarterfinals against defending champion San Miguel in the second game at 7 p.m.

With the last quarterfinal incentive sealed by Magnolia last Saturday, the Elasto Painters, who hold a 5-4 (win-loss) record, shift their focus on finishing at least sixth for the chance to play in a best-of-three series rather than facing a twice-to-beat disadvantage in the next round.

But the Elasto Painters will be without their resurgent star, James Yap, who will miss the game due to a calf injury. Yap has been on a tear the past few games, scoring 17 points in the 95-99 loss to Alaska last Friday.

Yap’s absence will make the task of toppling the Beermen even tougher for Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia, especially with Junemar Fajardo returning to the fold for San Miguel, after playing in the international window for Gilas Pilpinas.

“Hopefully, San Miguel relaxes a bit,” said Garcia, whose team will play Ginebra on Friday in what could be a knockout game if Rain or Shine loses to San Miguel. “We have a window of opportunity against them (Beermen) because we know Ginebra will come out harder.”

With a 4-6 record, KaTropa can forge at least a playoff for a quarterfinal berth in what has been a battle of survival among six teams vying for four remaining spots.

The Road Warriors already secured their spot in the next round.

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