By TITO S. TALAO
Games Today (Smart-Araneta Coliseum)
5:15 p.m. Alaska vs Air21
7:30 p.m. B-Meg vs TNT
Manila, Philippines – They meet again, B-Meg and Talk `N Text, protagonists in an epic seven-game championship during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup four weeks ago. Some of the faces are different, but most are the same. And some of the bitter memory lingers.
The Tropang Texters, beaten in a gut-wrenching Game 7 that went into overtime, could put all the lessons from that bitter defeat to good use tonight when they go up against the Llamados in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
A semifinal berth hangs in the balance for Talk `N Text, 4-3, needing a fourth straight victory to advance to the carry-over semis where already sit Rain or Shine (7-1) and most likely BMeg (5-2).
Game time is at 7:30 p.m. after the curtain-raiser at 5:15 p.m. between Alaska and Air21. The Aces, at 1-7, have seen their curtains fall on their campaign, but the Express, at 2-5, may still have a shot, especially if the four 4-4 teams above it in the standings and 3-4 Barako Bull drop their remaining game in the single round elimination.
Six teams are making it to the semifinals; the bottom four get eliminated.
Air21 is coming off a 128-121 win over Powerade where import Zachary Graham unloaded a season-high 51 points with 12 rebounds. A loss here, however, would derail with finality the Express’ bid.
Coaches Tim Cone of B-Meg and Chot Reyes of Talk `N Text, close friends on and off the court, would be waving at each other before the game, the not-too-distant finals probably behind them.
But fragments of that championship will continue to hound team management and players from both sides.
Given up for dead in the closing minutes, and victory streamers already being unfurled by TNT fans, the Llamados came back to forge overtime behind the free throws of Denzel Bowles in the aftermath of the dispute dying second foul called on Kelly Williams.
Bowles hit those two gift shots on the way to 39 points and 21 rebounds as B-Meg won 90-84 to join the fabled Toyota Super Corollas as the fourth winningest team in the league.
The Llamados will be shooting for something less than rewarding but definitely as significant, with the No. 2 spot in the semis fanning their quest for a second straight championship appearance.
After starting at 1-3, TNT won its last three games that include a morale-boosting 113-111 triumph against Barangay Ginebra last Sunday that improved its record to 4-3, while its victim fell in a four-way tie at 4-4 with Meralco, Powerade and Petron.
“Another big, big game,” said Reyes. “We’re up against the league’s best defensive team that is coming into this match wellrested and undoubtedly well-prepared. We’ll just have to make do and ﬁnd ways to compete like we’ve been doing in our past few games.” B-Meg dropped a 92-80 loss to Petron Blaze on June 17 and has been inactive since.
Cone is unfazed though.
“We’re coming off a tough loss and a long break so we’re antsy to get back on court and reestablish ourselves,” said Cone. “We know TNT well and they know us after our seven game series, so there won’t be any surprises.
It’s a big game for both of us. We both need it.”