IT’S now or never for Alaska and Talk ‘N Text as they collide today in a winner-take-all match for the remaining finals berth of the 35th Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces and the Tropang Texters are currently locked, 3-3, in the best-of-seven semifinal series and the winner in their lone 7 p.m. encounter will earn the right to face San Miguel Beer in the best of-seven championship series.
Coach Tim Cone’s Aces won game one (104-88), game three (90-86) and game six (94-83), while coach Chot Reyes’s team dominated game two (100-94), game four (83-62) and game five (82-81).
Both Reyes and Cone admitted that neither of them has the edge and expect a down-the-wire battle, which may be decided only by the breaks of the game.
Reyes admitted that they were outplayed in their 83-94 setback on Sunday that paved way for the sudden death match.
Despite the absence of 6’8” Sonny Thoss due to injury, the Tropang Texters failed to dominate the rebound as they could only make 50 to 49 by Alaska. In the field goal, Alaska had 42.9 percent on 33 of 77, while Talk ‘N Text settled for 39 percent on 31 of 79.
Even in the three-point zone, the Aces were remarkable with 50 percent conversion on five of 10 and only 26 percent for TNT on 7 of 26 attempts.
Reyes felt disgusted that they also fell in the free-throw lane with 70 percent compared to 73, while LA Tenorio and company were ahead in the assist area with 23 to 14 for TNT. Diamon Simpson somehow provided three for a total of six blocks for the Aces to only one by Jason Castro for TNT.
The Talk ‘N Text management decided to let the bulky 6’6” Shawn Daniels play against the more well-rounded Simpson in the crucial deciding game.
Reyes refused to put the blame on his import, but asked his local players, particularly Mac-Mac Cardona, Kelly Williams, Jason Castro, Jared Dillinger, Ranidel de Ocampo and Jimmy Alapag, to step-up.
“It’s not actually because of Shawn that we lost. We were basically outhustled. That was the worst part of our setback.
We were outworked,” said Reyes, whose Tropang Texters are seeking for their eigth finals stint since joining the league in 1990.