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PBA KO: Mixers vs Texters

Cabagnot, Lutz and Buenafe

Game Today (Cuneta Astrodome)
5 p.m. – San Mig vs Talk ‘N Text

Manila, Philippines – The last departing bus to the semifinals of the PLDT myDSL PBA Philippine Cup leaves around 5 today and will accommodate just one more passenger.

Defending three-time champion Talk ‘N Text and San Mig Super Coffee will have to give up everything for that one final ticket to ride.

With their best-of-3 quarterfinal series reduced to a do-or-die, the Tropang Texters and the Mixers clash one more time at 5 p.m. at the Cuneta Astrodome for the right to face the winner of the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel-Alaska Milk playoffs in the best-of-7 semifinals.

The Kings and the Aces were going at each other in the decider as of presstime yesterday.

Early qualifier Rain or Shine, which ousted Globalport, 106-96, in their quarterfinal matchup, takes on Petron Blaze, a 2-0 winner over Barako Bull in their three-game mini-series.

The Boosters turned back the Energy Cola, 107-100, late Friday, with Alex Cabagnot scoring 22 points with 12 assists, Arwind Santos adding 17 points and 12 rebounds, and June Mar Fajardo 14 and 17.

The semis start tomorrow at the Mall of Asia Arena and will run up to Feb. 14, if the series goes the distance. Game 1 of the best-of-7 Finals kicks off Feb. 16 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with reservations for March 2 should the championship reach a Game 7.

PJ Simon was the hero of San Mig’s 90-83 victory in the quarterfinals opener against Talk ‘N Text with 20 points last Tuesday. Three days later, however, Simon’s star dimmed after he missed two crucial baskets late in the second game, including one from point blank range, as the tenacious Tropang Texters leveled, 82-77.

Jayson Castro and Ryan Reyes each drilled three-point shots in the closing minutes Friday to keep the Mixers at bay and put on hold their celebration.

“The biggest difference is we had two days of practice with KG (Canaleta) as well as the other returning players like Noy Baclao, Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes,” TNT coach Norman Black told Bulletin-Tempo.

Canaleta, the former University of the East star, was acquired in a deal with Air21 after the eliminations.

“Two days of practice gave us a great deal. We also can’t beat San Mig if we don’t play defense. We have to play defense the best way we can. Hopefully we can get a win on Sunday.

The Texters did more than hope in Game 2, pounding the boards and San Mig’s frontline, especially Marc Pingris, who was held down to six points and five rebounds after 10 and 13 in Game 1.

Pingris admitted the Mixers had succumbed to the ferociousness and physicality of the Texters, whose aggressiveness threw San Mig’s vaunted triangle offense in disarray. He vowed to be more focused on the task at hand in Game 3. (Tito S. Talao)