Texters seek to finish off Beermen in Game Six

February 17, 2017

TNT KaTropa, three-to-two-games up and all pumped-up, takes its first two cracks at closing out its PBA Philippine Final Four showdown with titleholder San Miguel Beer at 7 p.m. Saturday night at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.

The Texters seized the crucial 3-2 series lead on a 101-94 triumph Thursday night carved largely behind the heroics of old warriors Jason Castro, Kelly Williams and Ranidel de Ocampo.

But TNT coach Nash Racela finds no comfort in that lead. “We still have to get it. San Miguel won’t hand it to us,” he said.

The Texters are also well aware of SMB’s recent playoff exploits, most notable of which was the Beermen’s epic fightback from 0-3 down to beat the Alaska Milk Aces for the 2016 all-Filipino crown.

“It’s easier (for the Beermen) to win two in a row than three straight games,” said Racela.

The Beermen also came from behind to win two previous all-Filipino best-of-seven playoffs.

“Masikip na yung daan namin pero may puwang pa rin naman,” said San Miguel top forward Arwind Santos. “At mas maganda yung may pagasa pa rin kami kaysa wala na. Habang may pagasa, laban kami.”

SMB coach Leo Austria politely declined an interview after their loss Thursday night.

“Less is more. Less talk is better,” Racela, on the other hand, said, conscious with the furor sparked by his statement about San Miguel being given “special treatment” by the referees in Game Four.

He was fined P20,000 for the statement and drew sharp reactions from San Miguel officials.

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But the rookie TNT coach stayed focused on his job and his players responded well as the Texters moved a win shy of a return stint in the all-Filipino finals.

TNT has topped the Philippine Cup five times from 2003 to 2013 under coaches Joel Banal, Chot Reyes and Norman Black.

But the team hasn’t been in the finals since its 2015 Commissioner’s Cup title run under coash Jong Uichico.