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PBA: TNT, Purefoods clash

Game Today (University of Southern Philippine Gym,Davao City)
5 p.m. – Talk ’N Text vs Purefoods

Games Tomorrow
(Cuneta Astrodome)
3 p.m. – NLEX vs Globalport
5:15 p.m. – Ginebra vs Rain or Shine

With three games to play, Purefoods Star’s ace shooting guard James Yap understands that every win counts for them as the Hotshots aim for one of two twice-to-beat incentives in the quarterfinal playoffs.

That’s the reason Yap sees a playoff “atmosphere” when defending champion Purefoods collides with league-leader Talk ’N Text in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Saturday Special today at the University of Southern Philippine Gym in Davao City.

“Parang playoffs na din ang dating kasi sa dikit-dikit ang teams, talagang ang labanan mahigpitan na. Parang matira ang matibay,” said Yap, a two-time league MVP.

The game between Purefoods and TNT is scheduled at 5 p.m.

Both teams are aiming for second straight victory after winning their previous assignments before the break for the PBA All-Star Weekend in Puerto Princesa, Palawan.

Talk ’N Text downed Globalport, 96-88, last March 1 where import Ivan Johnson collected 35 points and 20 rebounds and Ranidel de Ocampo contributed 25 points on 6-of-9 shooting from THE three-point area to help give TNT a 6-2 record.

That same day, Purefoods outlasted Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer in overtime, 113-105, snapping a three-game skid and improving its record to 5-3.

Yap came through for the Hotshots in the extra period as he scored eight of his 15 points. Purefoods import Denzel Bowles had 35 points and 17 boards while Alex Mallari and Marc Pingris added 17 and 15 points, respectively.

It was Yap’s first game after missing three and he said he’s fully recovered from a bruised left knee he sustained against Rain or Shine.
His stint in the All-Star Game proved his point.

“Maganda na yung pakiramdam ko, kita naman nakalaro pa ako sa All-Star Game and nakapag-compete sa Three-Point shootout,” said Yap. “Saka ok na yun tuhod ko, hindi na sumasakit.”

Pingris said the long break allowed Bowles to practice with the coaching staff and their other teammates while they were in Palawan and he’s confident Bowles will perform better against TNT.

“May mga konting adjustment lang naman, pero kabisado na naman ni Denzel ang sistema ni coach Tim (Cone),” said Pingris, who along with Justin Melton played for the North Team that won against the South Team of Yap, Mark Barroca, PJ Simon and Joe Devance.

Talk ’N Text had two All-Star participants in De Ocampo and Jayson Castro, who played for the North Team. TNT coach Jong Uichico said the long break also gave his team an opportunity to polish their game.

“We were able to work on some things,” said Uichico, who will also rely on other mainstays like Larry Fonacier, Jay Washington, Harvey Carey, Willie Miller, Ryan Reyes, as well as rookies Kevin Alas and Matt Rosser-Ganuelas.

After this game, the remaining opponents for Purefoods are Barako Bull this Tuesday and Meralco on Friday, while Talk ’N Text will face San Miguel Beer on Wednesday and Alaska in March 22.

The tournament format will have the top eight teams moving to the quarterfinal playoffs, with the best two earning twice-to-beat incentives against the seventh and eighth qualifiers while the third to sixth teams will meet in the crossover three-game series.

The bottom four teams at the end of the eliminations will be eliminated.