8 p.m. — Barangay Ginebra vs Rain or Shine
Faced with the tall order of winning all its remaining games, Talk ‘N Text made sure that there would be no surprises against Meralco, which no longer has any stake for a Finals berth, in a 108-84 rout last night that kept the Tropang Texters on target in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup semifinal round at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“We have no choice but to win all our remaining games. We are in a situation wherein one miss, we die,” acknowledged Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes after his wards took their first win in the semifinals that put them within striking range of the tournament incentive wherein any team which wins four of its five semis assignments will be rewarded with a playoff shot for a Finals seat.
Interestingly, that win also kept alive Reyes’ own hopes to stamp a sterling finish to his career as Talk ‘N Text coach. He is set to leave his post at the end of the season to become the head coach of the Smart Gilas Pilipinas national team with Norman Black taking over as Tropang Texters’ mentor.
But unlike last night when the Tropang Texters faced little resistance from the Bolts whom they buried in deficits of as many as 33 points (96-63), they are in for a tough and challenging road to that playoff shot with games against Petron, Rain or Shine and Barangay Ginebra up ahead.
“We have to keep on fighting and see how far this will take us,” Reyes said.
And to prime his squad for those three must-win games, Reyes took advantage of Meralco’s lackadaisical showing in fielding his entire roster. He was amply rewarded when all but two of the 13 men he fielded scored.
Expect action to be heated up all the more today when Barangay Ginebra continues its own quest for a Finals slot when it takes on leader Rain or Shine at 8 p.m. also at the Cubao Arena.
With their 7-4 win-loss slate, the Gin Kings are also seeking a playoff shot at the Finals while the Elasto Painters, ahead of the pack with a 9-2 mark, have more lofty hopes of clinching at least a tie for a berth in the championship series.
Ranidel de Ocampo led the Tropang Texters’ charge early on, scoring on a three-pointer and a lay-up that gave them an early 15-2 advantage.
Another big man, Japeth Aguilar, flashed the form Reyes would need in the next three games and finished with 20 points – 14 coming in the first half alone.
Jimmy Alapag knocked in a two triples and led Talk ‘N Text to a hefty 9-of-16 shooting from the three-point area and had 12 points while another local Kelly Williams added 11.
Import Paul Harris only had 10 points but that hardly bothered Reyes who also had six other locals who scored eight points or less.
“The only thing we can think of is Petron on Friday. We’re just shortening our sight, next game — that’s the only thing can control at this point,” Reyes noted.