GINEBRA, TNT DUEL FOR SURVIVAL
5:15 p.m. — B-Meg vs Rain or Shine
7:30 p.m. — Barangay Ginebra vs Talk ‘N Text
The Finals scenario starts to take shape today as B-Meg and Rain or Shine dispute the first outright seat while Barangay Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text slug it out for a playoff shot at the best-of-seven championship series in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Llamados and Elasto Painters are tied at top place with 9-4 win-loss records and will face off at 5:15 p.m. where the winner will advance outright to the Finals while relegating the loser to a playoff for the second seat in the championship playoffs.
The first game loser will face whoever wins between Barangay Ginebra and Talk ‘N Text which tangle in the 7:30 p.m. featured game.
The Llamados are coming off an inspiring 82-70 win over the Gin Kings last Sunday and will be heavy picks to prevail over the Elasto Painters who have skidded to a 1-3 stint in the semis after topping the elimination round with a superb 8-1 record.
The most recent of Rain or Shine’s setbacks was a 90-94 loss to the Tropang Texters last Monday that stalled the Elasto Painters’ advance to what could be the franchise’s first championship stint.
And it would be one of the season’s biggest heartbreak story should the Elasto Painters fail to make it to the Finals. They mowed down the field in the elimination round and only dropped one game against Powerade last June 8 sparking nasty talk if the Elasto Painters were for real.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao has been seeking validation of his team’s true might since then but that ticket to the Finals has been very elusive.
The Llamados, seeking their second straight Finals stint since winning the Commissioner’s Cup, are poised to frustrate them further.
“I think the biggest key was refreshing our commitment to defense. Our goal out there was to come out with a defensive mindset. That got us feeling good with renewed vigor,” said B-Meg coach Tim Cone after their game against the Gin Kings, perhaps revealing what the key will be for their match against the Elasto Painters.
Expect another slambang encounter in the second match as the Gin Kings and Tropang Texters figure in a do-or-die match to determine who will earn the right to challenge for the second Finals seat.
While the Gin Kings are expected to be backed by a full house of supporters anew, the Tropang Texters have gallantly bounced back from the ebbs of the Conference to get this far.
Talk ‘N Text has won three straight games and will surely carry over the momentum of that run to keep their bid to make it to their sixth straight Finals appearance in two seasons.
“All we did tonight was to buy us a little bit more time. Our situation hasn’t changed. We’re going to come with a game on Wednesday when we will be out fighting for our lives,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes after that Monday win.
Reyes also noted how his import Paul Harris has stepped up in the last two games, averaging 33 points in those big wins over Rain or Shine and Petron.
“Harris doesn’t want to go home, doesn’t want it to end. I can really be hard on him and he just continues to play to say that he’s here,” said Reyes of Harris, the same import which helped them reach this Conference’s Finals last year which they eventually yielded to Petron Bla