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Powerade, Painters gatecrash Final Four


Game Jan. 4, 2012 (Cuneta Astrodome)
6:45 p.m. ­ Rain or Shine vs Powerade Game

Jan. 5, 2012 (Cuneta Astrodome)
6:45 p.m. ­ Petron Blaze vs Talk ‘N Text

Manila, Philippines – The Final Four of the PBA Philippine Cup would have pitted the league’s strongest teams in the first match-up and the most popular ballclubs in the other, until Powerade and Rain or Shine upset the form chart.

The Tigers, huge underdogs against the powerhouse B-Meg squad, posted back-to-back wins against the league’s hottest team to reach the semifinals while the Elasto Painters rose from the grave in Game 1 and went on to eliminate crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra Wednesday in their own series.

As a result, the Kings and the Llamados, the league’s certified box-office draws, are out of the title picture.

Taking their places are two teams that boast some of the league’s best young talents.

The first semifinal match is set on Jan. 4, 2012 at the Astrodome in Pasay City, featuring Rain or Shine and Powerade.

Paul Lee, Rain or Shine’s rookie playmaker, collides with Powerade’s backcourt duo of JV Casio and Marcio Lassiter.

Casio edged Lee for the No. 1 spot in the PBA rookie draft, but the former University of the East Warrior has been playing exceptional, making him the top contender for the Rookie of the Year award given at the end of the season.

The second pairing pits Talk `N Text against Petron in a replay of last season’s Governors’ Cup Finals.

The Texters ousted Barako Bull while Petron disposed of Meralco in the quarterfinals.

A departure from previous practice, the PBA Commissioner’s Office ­ in a joint venture with AKTV ­ decided to split the semifinal showdowns from Games 1 to 4.

The Rain or Shine-Powerade match could take the spotlight from Talk `N Text and Petron.

Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao expects a tough series against Powerade, the team it narrowly beat last Oct. 9, 96-93.

“We have to be very careful against Powerade, we’re not going to be complacent and over confident because they’re as strong as any team in the PBA,“ said Guiao. “Powerade deserves to be in the semifinals. They were the underdogs (against B-Meg), but they beat the odds.“

Gary David, the league’s leading scorer, is expected to lead the Tigers while the Painters can lean on old Jeff Chan, JR Quinahan, Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood, Ronjay Buenafe and TY Tang.

In the other semifinals, the Texters get a chance to avenge their defeat to the Boosters that denied them a grand slam last season.

“I think they have the advantage, with the way they are playing,“ said Petron coach Ato Agustin, pointing to his team’s 0-2 record against Talk ‘N Text this all-Filipino conference.

“But I think it will be a good series. We’ll prepare hard, and if we do that, we’ll have a chance,“ Agustin added.