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Red-hot TNT to test NorthPort’s mettle

Read this in The Manila Times digital edition.

ALONE ON TOP TNT guns for its ninth win in 10 games when it battles NorthPort today at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga. PBA PHOTO

ALASKA and Meralco return to action in the PBA Philippine Cup this week and resume their mission of securing playoff berths, but TNT and NorthPort will open hostilities today at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Tropang Giga, winners of eight of their nine games, will take on the streaking Batang Pier, who have won three straight games last week in their return to action after more than a month of layoff.

What’s more impressive was NorthPort was able to win all three games without the members of its coaching staff, who were in isolation last week in compliance with the league’s health and safety protocols.

The league’s two hottest teams clash at 3 p.m. before the main game between the resurging Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters and the slumping Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings at 6 p.m.

An upset win over tournament leader TNT would allow NorthPort to climb up to fifth place in the standings at 5-3, tied with San Miguel, which defeated Batang Pier in the early phase of the elimination round.

But TNT also has a task at hand and that is to firm up its hold of the top two spots. A win over the Batang Pier would guarantee the Tropang Giga an outright top two berth that bears a twice-to-beat advantage in the first round of the playoffs.

One team hard-pressed to win is defending champion Barangay Ginebra. The Gin Kings lost back-to-back games against fellow powerhouse teams San Miguel and TNT and cannot afford to lose another game if they want to have full control of their fate this tournament.

The Gin Kings are currently at ninth spot with a dismal 3-5 win-loss mark and unless they start winning beginning Wednesday against the Fuel Masters, they might see themselves packing early and returning to Manila sooner than expected.

They will be facing a Fuel Masters team that has won back-to-back games, including a 114-92 demolition of Blackwater on Saturday that officially eliminated the Bossing out of the race for a playoff berth.

Phoenix is looking for its fifth win in the tournament and a victory would allow the squad to overtake NLEX at seventh spot with an even 5-5 card.

Meralco and Alaska, two teams sidelined last week in compliance with the league’s health and safety protocols, return to action on Thursday and Friday, respectively.

The Bolts, who carry a 5-2 win-loss record, can firm up their chances for a top two berth as they take on the Terrafirma Dyip on Thursday at 2 p.m.

On Friday, the Aces play their first game in two weeks opposite the Gin Kings at 6 p.m.

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