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League leader TNT take on Mahindra

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UNBEATEN leader TNT KaTropa and Mahindra test each other’s mettle when they collide Friday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Texters are gunning for a seventh straight win while the Enforcer are eyeing to bolster their newfound billing as a contender and, at the same time, move out of their current tie with idle Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel Beer and take solo second-running spot.

Already, TNT coach Jong Uichico knows his team will have its hands full. “They are a tough team to beat,” he said.

Chris Gavina, chief assistant to playing-coach Manny Pacquiao, said no less than a superlative effort, especially on making stops, is a must for his charges for them to hurdle TNT.

“We will need a championship effort on defense if we are to overcome TNT’s dynamic team,”said Gavina, whose focus is mainly on how to contain the likes of Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo and imports Mychal Lemar Ammons and Michael Madanly.

Castro has been a veritable dynamo for TNT, averaging a league-high 7.67 assists on top of 18.3 points and 4.67 rebounds, while De Ocampo norms 13.3 points, 6.67 rebounds and a little bit of everything else.

For their part, Ammons has been steady in the two games he has played thus far with 20 points and 18 rebounds while Madanly exploded for 30 points, anchored on 8-for-13 three-point shooting, in a 124-117 win over Phoenix last Friday.

James White headlines Mahindra’s arsenal with almost 27 points and over 14 rebounds a game and Uichico expects him to be his team’s biggest headache.

“They have a very good import that we have to stop,” said Uichico.

It is not just White Gavina will be banking on, however, with the likes of KG Canaleta, Aldrech Ramos, Paolo Taha and LA Revilla leading the locals and expected to put more order in Mahindra’s game.

After committing just 12 turnovers in their conference-opener against Star the Enforcer have averaged almost 21 in their last six games and made 23 in a 97-88 victory over Blackwater last Sunday that arrested their two-game slide.

“We have addressed our issues of valuing each possession in practice in order to minimize our turnovers,” related Gavina.

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