MANILA, Philippines - With their history of fierce competition, Talk n Text and Rain or Shine start today a semifinal showdown tipped to be as scorching as the cruelest days of April.
The Tropang Texters and the Elasto Painters, among the league’s consistent solid performers, begin their highly anticipated PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-five semifinal confrontation at 8 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
It could well be a tough grind as they have always done at least in all their battles in the last three conferences.
In each of their last four meetings, the Texters and the E-Painters engaged in a battle of will with no team winning by more than three points.
With the stakes higher, the Texters and the E-Painters are expected to figure in more gripping face-offs or in a war of attrition.
Talk n Text is out to sustain its amazing unbeaten run in pursuit of a first finals in five conferences while Rain or Shine hopes to keep its competitive form in a bid to make the title playoff for the second straight tourney.
“We expect a very intense semifinal series versus Rain or Shine. The important thing is for us to match or surpass their energy and aggressiveness,” said Talk n Text coach Norman Black.
“Major concerns are (Wayne) Chism who played very well in their quarterfinal series, Paul Lee who has been their best player and Ryan Araña who has been attacking the basket lately,” Black also said.
“From our end, we just want to continue to play at a high level especially on the defensive end. We feel we can score with any team. The key will be our ability to defend RoS,” Black added.
Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao said their goal is very simple.
“You want to be the best, then beat the best – that simple,” said Guiao.
Talk n Text is easily the best team in the league at the moment, riding the momentum of a 10-game romp going into the Final Four.
The MVP Group flagship ball club has been unbeaten, but is playing only a second game in over two weeks.
The question is whether Black and his troops have done their job to stay sharp and competitive in that long layoff.
It’s surely a big help for Richard Howell who sustained a back injury in their second to last game in the elimination round.
Howell is likely to be a major factor in the semis as he has been in the Tropang Texters’ searing run from the elimination round to the quarterfinals versus Barangay Ginebra.
The bull-strong 23-year-old player has been averaging monster numbers of 22.78 points and 19.89 rebounds. Chism, meanwhile, norms 23 markers and 12.86 boards for the E-Painters.
Other exciting matchups in the series include those of Gilas Pilipinas hopefuls Lee, Jeff Chan, Beau Belga, Ranidel de Ocampo, Larry Fonacier, Jayson Castro and Jimmy Alapag.
The other semi series pitting San Mig Coffee and Air21 begins at 8 p.m. tomorrow.