Talk 'N Text, Alaska seek final 4: RoS, Meralco duel for second
MANILA, Philippines - Titleholder Rain or Shine and Meralco dispute solo second place while all-Filipino champ Talk n Text and second conference titlist Alaska Milk fight for a spot in the Top Four in an explosive doubleheader in the PBA Governors Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay tonight.
The Elasto Painters and the Bolts clash at 5:15 p.m., both shooting for a fourth win against two losses. The Tropang Texters and the Aces collide at 7:30 p.m., both eying a third win in five outings.
“We’ve been in a shooting slump in our last two games before the Air21 game so my only advice to my players is to keep working hard and fire away, not thinking of the misses we’ve incurred in previous games,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“It’s clear in our minds that with great effort, the reward is greater. Coming off two straight wins against quality teams, our mindset remains the same – outwork, outhustle and clamp down on defense – if we are to win against another quality team,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.
The Bolts gutted it out as they stunned the Tropang Texters and the Alaska Milk in their last two games. Meralco, however, may need to work harder to be competitive against Rain or Shine as Bolt center Reynel Hugnatan is a doubtful starter due to an injured knee.
Meanwhile, Talk n Text welcomes another returning national player, Jimmy Alapag, as the Texters square off with the Aces, both looking to be above the .500 mark halfway through their elimination round in the season-ending tourney.
Going to the crucial setto, the two teams are outside the Top Four with similar 2-2 win-loss slates.
The winner moves up to joint third place with Barako Bull at 3-2 while the loser drops to joint sixth with Globalport, San Mig Coffee and Barangay Ginebra at 2-3.
“It’s really a big game,” said Talk n Text coach Norman Black.
“We know Alaska is one of the best teams in the league so this will be a tough one. We’re hoping to get a lift from Jimmy though he has had only three days of practice,” Black also said.
Ranidel de Ocampo, Jayson Castro and Larry Fonacier rejoined the Texters ahead of Alapag, helping the team to a 102-95 win over the Globalport Batang Pier Sunday.
Alaska, meanwhile, dropped its last game against Meralco, 74-84, succumbing on the Bolts’ lock-down defense.
Fonacier went 3-of-6 from the three-point area and finished with 19 points while Castro and De Ocampo contributed 12 and 11 points, respectively, as the Tropang Texters snapped a two-game losing skid versus the Batang Pier.
“We’ve a long way to go. We haven’t got into the groove. We still need a lot more practice,” said Fonacier.
“It’s still an adjustment period for the three. And we’re not a good team right now. Every game’s going to be tough,” said Black.
“Everything’s a bit of a struggle. We’re trying to hang in there to qualify to the next round. It’ll be a big lift for us when Jimmy (Alapag) comes back. It’s nice to hear his voice as the team’s leader,” Black also said.
The Texters relied on the key spurt of Mitchell, Fonacier, Ryan Reyes and De Ocampo to open a 14-point lead, 99-85, with four minutes left to play.
And as the Batang Pier waged a final fightback to close in at 95-100, Castro took charge to clinch the Texters’ second victory following a 118-113 overtime decision over the Energy Cola on Aug. 16.
Castro, named to the Mythical Selection in the 27th FIBA Asia Championship, grabbed a crucial offensive rebound and knocked in two charities to settle the outcome of the contest.