By WAYLON GALVEZ
Manila, Philippines – Talk ’N Text coach Chot Reyes knows his team is nowhere near the kind of basketball squad that made the last five finals of the PBA, much more the ball club that won three championships the past five conferences.
But, as things stand, the Texters are fighting for their playoff life where a loss against Barako Bull in tonight’s game would probably mean one more blow in their struggle for survival.
Currently in seventh place with just two wins in five games, the once formidable Texters are facing elimination in the Governors’ Cup where only the top six teams advance and the last four are eliminated.
TNT meets Barako Bull at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum at 7:30 p.m., while Air21 takes on Meralco at 5:15 p.m.
Significantly, all four teams are in the bottom half of the standings thus making tonight’s game crucial for each team’s well being.
At the moment, already assured of semis slots are Rain or Shine (6-1) and Commissioner’s Cup champion B-Meg (5-2). Powerade (4-2) and defending
champion Petron Blaze (4-3) occupy third and fourth spots, followed by Barako Bull (3-3) and Barangay Ginebra (3-3). Next are TNT (2-3), Meralco (2-4) and Air21 (1-4). Alaska, at 1-6, has been eliminated in the playoff race.
The Texters are fresh from an 80-72 win over the Aces over the weekend in Tubod, Lanao del Norte, where import Paul Harris recorded 25 points with 16 rebounds in 36 minutes of action.
However, Larry Fonacier was the only local who finished in double digits with 16 points.
“The problem is we’re not playing anywhere near the level to compete versus the top teams as seen in our last few games,“ said Reyes, who is hoping for a more balanced offensive attack by his team.
Among the players Reyes is counting on opposite Barako Bull are reigning MVP Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams, Ranidel de Ocampo, Ali Peek and Jayson Castro, who played his first game against Alaska after missing the team’s first four due to an ankle injury.
However, still doubtful starters are Ryan Reyes (knee) and Jared Dillinger (hamstring).
“It’s a must-win for both teams,“ said Reyes. “We must figure out not only how to stop Barako Bull’s prolific import Leroy Hickerson but their deep and talented local crew as well.“