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NLEX import faces acid test

Games today:

(Philsports Arena)

4 p.m. — NorthPort vs TNT

8 p.m. — NLEX vs Magnolia


There will be no honeymoon period for new NLEX import Stokley Chaffey as the Road Warriors battle unbeaten Magnolia in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup today at the Philsports Arena.

Game time is set at 8 p.m. with Chaffey expected to go hard to make a strong impression to prove that he deserves to replace Thomas Robinson — one of the league’s best imports who was released recently after going on vacation to Palawan and Boracay without the blessing of the NLEX management.

Prior to going to unplanned vacation, Robinson, the top scorer among the reinforcements with 34.5 points per game, had a verbal altercation with NorthPort manager Pido Jarencio following their 112-104 triumph last Wednesday.

Jarencio was fined P20,000 and was given stern warning while the Road Warriors opted to part ways with Robinson.

The 26-year-old Chaffey, who last played in Finland, will immediately have his hands full as he collides with the energetic Tyler Bey and the Hotshots — the league’s hottest team with four straight victories in the early stretch of the season-opening conference.

Bey proves to be a great fit to the defense-minded Magnolia squad as they immediately grab the top spot while extending their winning streak to 15 dating back to the PBA On Tour more than five months ago. “We wanted to have a good start,” Hotshots coach Chito Victolero said.

“We’ve experienced having a bad start when we started at 1-4 or 1-5 and we had a hard time getting back and going to the playoffs.”

Victolero said despite posting a 4-0 win-loss card, they will still go hard to boost their chances of winning their first title since 2018.

“As much as possible, we just wanted to keep on winning until we reach our immediate goal of making the playoffs, but we need to take it one game at a time,” he said.

“The players had a great mindset of getting ready every game and that’s what we hope for.”

Meanwhile, NorthPort seeks to arrest a two-game slide when it battles TNT Tropang Giga in the first game at 4 p.m.

But the mission will not be easy as the Tropang Giga are also coming off a 95-109 loss to Meralco last Sunday with head coach Jojo Lastimosa ruing the lack of local support to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.

Hollis-Jefferson, the Best Import awardee in the previous Governors’ Cup, erupted for 47 points and 12 rebounds but no Tropang Giga managed to finish in double figures aside from Jayson Castro, who registered 19 markers.

“We couldn’t knock down our shots,” Lastimosa said, adding that much is expected from Calvin Oftana, who is now filling the huge void created by the absence of their top gunner Mikey Williams.

“But I felt Meralco played good defense and we had a hard time adjusting to the schemes.”

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