Oftana, NLEX cross paths

Games today:
(Philsports Arena)
3 p.m. — Meralco vs Phoenix
5:45 p.m. — TNT vs NLEX

Calvin Oftana faces his old team, NLEX, and tries to help his new squad, TNT Tropang Giga, claim its third straight victory in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup today at the Philsports Arena.

The Tropang Giga battle the Road Warriors in the main game of the scheduled double-header at 5:45 p.m., right after the match between the rejuvenated Phoenix and Meralco in the first game at 3 p.m.

Oftana will take on the Road Warriors for the first time since he got traded prior to the start of the conference.

The 6-foot-5 former National Collegiate Athletic Association Most Valuable Player was shipped to TNT in a multi-player trade which also involved veteran forward Troy Rosario and Gab Banal, both now seeing action for Blackwater, and top overall pick Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, now playing for NLEX.

Since being transferred to the Tropang Giga, Oftana had become a key contributor to the star-studded squad, playing both forward spots and embracing the role as a starter.

In three games with the Tropang Giga, Oftana averaged 10.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game.

After dropping its opening game of the tournament, TNT went back and flexed its might in the next two games, winning by an average of 21.5 points..

Cameron Oliver had proven to be the right fit of an import for the Tropang Giga as his versatility and athleticism had allowed Chot Reyes and his troops to take advantage of their speed and agility.

A candidate for Philippine naturalization, the Gilas Pilipinas prospect averaged 28 points, 11.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists while also blocking 1.3 shots.

Oftana and Oliver fitted like a glove to the rest of the Tropang Giga, who had slowly but surely getting their key players back in action.

Mikey Williams and Jayson Castro had already returned from their respective ankle injuries that they suffered during the Philippine Cup finals showdown with San Miguel Beer.

With that, TNT will be a lot more dangerous against an NLEX team that continues to be a work in progress.

The Road Warriors had been experiencing birth pains under new coach Frankie Lim, who had lost his first two games as a returning mentor in the PBA.

Lim and his wards will try to arrest an alarming skid and get back on the winning track, but injuries to some of the key players — Anthony Semerad, JR Quinahan, Philip Paniamogan and Kris Rosales — had certainly affected the rotation of the Road Warriors.

Like TNT, Phoenix is also establishing a winning run amid reports of a possible sale of its franchise.

Since the news came out, the Fuel Masters were able to put together back-to-back victories, sparked by no less than its rookie guard, Tyler Tio, who had been phenomenal the past two games, setting consecutive career-high in points.

After hitting 21 points in the Fuel Masters’ 91-101 loss to the visiting Bay Area Dragons on 1 October 2022, Tio knocked down 26 points, including five triples in his team’s dominating 111-97 triumph over the Road Warriors on 8 October 2022.

The Fuel Masters will be taking on a slumping Bolts team that has yet to get its usual steady game going this conference.

Meralco team manager Paolo Trillo considers their game against Phoenix as a make or break match and could somehow determine the future of import Johnny O’Bryant.

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