GameToday (Smart Araneta)
5 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs Purefoods Star
Manila, Philippines – Nineteen three-point shots in Game 2 to dim the lights on the Meralco Bolts in one best-of-five semifinals a while back. And similarly 19 triples to sink the defending champion Purefoods Star Hotshots in Game 3 of the other series two days ago.
Are the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters tearing a page from the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters’ playbook in the semis against Meralco by posting snipers behind the arc against Purefoods and shooting their way to a projected finals appearance in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup?
It appears that way after Jayson Castro boldly launched nine treys last Thursday, hitting eight, and the rest of the Tropang Texters added 11 to stop Purefoods on its tracks, 111-107, for a 2-1 lead in their semifinal showdown.
Though not exactly an incineration, the Hotshots were torched just the same, with the Tropang Texters looking to finish the job at 5 p.m. today in Game 4 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A victory for TNT will arrange a Gunfight at the O.K. Corral championship with ROS, which dropped 19 three-pointers on Meralco for a 2-0 advantage in their series before completing the sweep a few days later.
A deflated Purefoods this afternoon will be a welcome respite for TNT, which needed to scrape and claw up to the closing seconds of Game 4, despite Castro’s outside explosion, to put down the Hotshots.
But TNT coach Jong Uichico knows nothing will be served to them on a platter.
“We still need another game and Game 4 will be tougher because they’re capable of making adjustments,” said Uichico. “All our games will be tough.”
Castro’s ‘evolution’, as Uichico calls it, will go a long way to easing the burden.
As remarkable was his eight of nine shooting from three-point range, Castro had heads shaking by issuing 10 assists and adding 3 rebounds and 3 steals in 39:10 minutes.
“Jayson is Jayson, and his game has evolved from just scoring to doing other things to help the team,” said Uichico.
The adjustment he spoke of and look ahead to would likely focus on Purefoods import Denzel Bowles who again was reduced to dragging his feet in the critical fourth quarter after spending his energy scoring most of his 39 points in the first three quarters.
What Purefoods coach Tim Cone plans to do to ensure Bowles won’t be running on an empty gas tank in the fourth quarter without the Hotshots getting overrun in the first half remains to be seen though.
If Bowles holds back and sits on the bench longer than usual, Purefoods will have to rely on its locals and team defense to keep the game close against Ivan Johnson and the three-point shooting Texters, who got endless good looks at the basket the last time out.
The mystery of the fourth quarter benching of Purefoods superstar James Yap will also remain unanswered, especially with Yap determined to put behind that episode.
“Hindi pa naman tapos ang series eh. Basta wala ng time magsisihan. Kalimutan na itong game na ito and then focus na sa next game,” Yap told Spin.ph.
That would be today, with Purefoods on the brink of losing a second championship defense from its Grand Slam season after the recent Philippine Cup.