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PBA: Beermen gun for PBA finals

Marcio Lassiter of San Miguel Beer passes the ball against the defense of Matt Ganuelas during PBA action at MOA Arena.   Photo by Tony Pionilla

Game Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. – San Miguel Beer vs Talk ‘N Text

Manila, Philippines – One game at a time – that’s how PBA teams which fell behind 0-3 in a best-of-7 series averted a sweep and salvaged some pride against dominant opponents.

And that’s what Talk ‘N Text can use as a mantra to carve in its heart and burn to its brain when it begins the long, long way back from a deep hole in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals against San Miguel Beer.

Game time is at 7 tonight at the Mall of Asia Arena, with the Beermen looking to sweep the Tropang Texters out of contention for a finals berth.

No ballclub has come all the way back from such a deficit to win four consecutive games – an unprecedented feat a couple of teams came close to achieving but ultimately succumbed to.

SMB blew out TNT in Game 1 (109-86) but got dragged to a furious battle before claiming Games 2 and 3 (87-81 and 96-95). The Game 3 loss on Monday was particularly painful for the Tropang Texters who had the game-winning shot in their hands but failed to cash it in.

The Beermen, beaten by San Mig Super Coffee (now Purefoods) in the 2013 Governors’ Cup Finals, are gunning for a return trip to the championship against the winner of the Alaska-Rain or Shine series.

Game time is at 7 p.m. with the Beermen eyeing a first trip to the Finals since losing to San Mig Coffee (now Purefoods) in the 2013 Governors Cup in seven games.

Despite their clear advantage in practically every department, SMB coach Leo Austria preaches caution to his players.

“Sinasabi ko lagi, kailangan manalo kami ng apat na games. Ang advantage namin is we only need to win one out of four. Yung isang paa namin nandun na (Finals) but the chances of Talk ’N Text are still there so we still can’t be complacent,” Austria told Spin. Ph.

His TNT counterpart, Jong Uichico, chooses to stay positive, on the other hand, in the face of overwhelming odds.

“We just do the same things. We know that our backs are against the wall. It’s gonna be hard, but that’s what the semis is so we still keep the faith and that this time, we’ll take one game at a time,” he said.

Little has changed as far as the basic premise of the series is concerned: SMB dumps the ball down low to June Mar Fajardo and TNT chooses whether to double and risk a kick-out pass to Arwind Santos, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter, Ronald Tubid, Jeric Fortuna and a host of other gunners on the Beermen bench, or go single coverage against the 6-foot-10 center who is averaging 18 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists and 1 block in the semis.

Santos has norms of 18 ppg and 6 rpg, while Cabagnot clips at 11 ppg, 4 rpg and 4 assists per game.

TNT has gone 24 of 50 from the foul line in its last two games, figures that have to rise drastically if the Texters are to live to fight another day.

“Sinasabi ko lagi, kailangan manalo kami ng apat na games. Ang advantage namin is we only need to win one out of four. Yung isang paa namin nandun na sa Finals but the chances of Talk ‘N Text are still there so we still can’t be complacent,” said Austria.

As for Talk ‘N Text, Coach Jong Uichico said although their backs are against the wall, they will still continue do the things they do and hope that they can come up with a win.

“We just do the same things. We know that our backs are against the wall. It’s gonna be hard, but that’s what the semis is so we still keep the faith and that this time, we’ll take one game at a time,” said Uichico.

TNT has never trailed 0-3 in a best-of-seven series.

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