TNT, Barako dispute last Finals berth
MANILA, Philippines – The Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters and the Barako Bull Energy are prepared to wage an all-out war tonight when they battle for the last Finals berth of the PBA Commissioner's Cup in a do-or-die Game Five at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Texters forced a deciding Game Five after routing the Energy, 108-90, in Game Four of what has been a highly physical semi-finals series.
In tonight's win-or-go home contest, TNT head coach Chot Reyes told PBA.ph that he is expecting nothing less than an “all out war.”
Reyes said his players can no longer dwell on the physical nature of the series, saying, “We just have to play with it and play through it.”
In their Game Four win, the Texters got strong performances from Ranidel de Ocampo, Donnell Harvey, Jared Dillinger, Jayson Castro and Kelly Williams, all of whom scored in double figures.
TNT's defense flustered the Energy, especially import Gabe Freeman, who was held to career-low numbers of six points and seven rebounds.
But Barako head coach Junel Baculi contends that the officiating had something to do with his squad’s loss in Game Four.
"Barako Bull was denied its usual physical game in this Game Four, whereas Talk 'N Text was allowed to be physical on us," Baculi said.
"I sincerely hope that the referees will allow us to play our usual physical in our do-or-die game on Wednesday, the way they allowed Talk 'N Text tonight," he added.
"A fair and even officiating in Game Five will determine the rightful finalist."
The Energy and the Texters have alternated wins in the best-of-five series, with Barako taking the series opener, 84-77, before TNT equalized with a 123-98 victory in Game Two.
Barako pushed ahead again after winning Game Three 85-81, but missed out on a chance to close out the series, losing Game Four 90-108.
The winner of tonight's Game Five will face the B-Meg Derby Ace Llamados in the best-of-seven PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals.
The Llamados crushed perennial crowd favorites Barangay Ginebra, 108-84, in Game Four of their semi-finals showdown to clinch the first slot in the Finals.