by Waylon Galvez
Now, it’s down to one game.
Top seed Talk ’N Text and Grand Slam-seeking San Mig Super Coffee battle for a slot in the finals when they clash in a sudden death Game 5 in their PBA PLDT Home Telpad Governors’ Cup semifinals tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
In a fitting finish to a thrilling encounter between teams from rival companies, the five-game showdown is tied at 2-2.
The defending champion Mixers took the first two games, 92-88 in overtime and 93-85 before the Tropang Texters leveled by winning Game 3, 112-86, and Game 4 in extra period, 84-81, last Wednesday.
Gametime is at 8 p.m.
“For us, this is it,” said Talk ’N Text coach Norman Black, whose team is trying to become only the fourth team in PBA history to win a best-of-five after losing the first two games.
“We wanted to get to a Game 5, and now we’re here. What’s left is to finish the job and leave all our energy on the court,” added Black as he looks to avenge the team’s Commissioner’s Cup Finals debacle when TNT entered the finale with a 13-0 record but lost to San Mig, 3-1, in the five-game series.
A victory by Talk ’N Text will propel the franchise to its 16th Finals stint as it aims for a seventh championship – and first since the 2013 Philippine Cup – while Black will have a shot for his 12th coaching title in 17 attempts.
However, TNT will face a team that is not new to playing in a do-or-die Game 5.
“We’re disappointed, we didn’t get (in Game 4), but we’re certainly not discouraged,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone. “We felt from the beginning that this series was going to go down to the wire, so its no surprise to us that we’re playing a Game 5.”
“We’ve played a bunch of these knockout games over the past couple of years, so we’re not intimidated by them. We’re just going to go out and put together the best game possible and see what happens,” added Cone.
San Mig Super Coffee has a 5-2 record in a Game 5 sudden-death, winning its previous only last conference when the Mixers defeated the Air21 Express in the semifinals of the Commissioner’s Cup.
Cone’s team is also 3-0 in the ‘Big Three’ era of James Yap, PJ Simon and Marc Pingris, and San Mig Super Coffee won its last seven do-or-die games – combined quarterfinals, semifinals and finals – since last season’s Governors’ Cup.
Talk ’N Text, on the other hand, has a 3-3 card in a do-ordie Game 5, losing the previous match versus Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the Commissioner’s Cup semifinals.
The Texters are also 2-3 in a Game 5 do-or-die since 2003 when – as a rookie – Jimmy Alapag joined the team. In do-or-die encounters, Talk ’N Text is 4-4 since last season.