TNT, San Mig tipped to remain 1-2 Friday night


Sol Mercado goes for a shot against Jared Dillinger and Rich Alvarez. Photo by Nuki Sabio

MANILA, Philippines — Talk ‘N Text seeks a little more buffer from the rest of the field today when the front-running Tropang Texters battle the dangerous Meralco Bolts in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations at Ynares Center in Antipolo.

Coming off just their second loss of the season, the defending champion Texters hope to get back on track against the Bolts in the 7:30 p.m. game and pull farther away from the second-running San Mig Coffee Mixers.

Finishing as No. 1 in the eliminations means the lightest assignment in the quarterfinals, where the topnotcher would need to win only once to move on.

Talk ‘N Text has actually lost two of its last three games but is listed as the prohibitive pick against the Bolts, who are making do without a dominant big man and is running fourth in the standings with a 5-3 record.

Meanwhile, Bong Ramos makes his coaching comeback in the 5:15 p.m. game when he calls the shots for Barako Bull in its clash with the Mixers, who are also bidding to stay in second spot.

Finishing with the second-best record also means a lighter assignment in the quarterfinals. The tournament format calls for the third- to sixth-placed squads to slug it out in two best-of-three series for the right to make the Final Four.

Ramos was elevated to the head coaching job after management fired his friend, Junel Baculi, earlier in the week as the Energy settled fror a 3-9 mark.

Talk ‘N Text, which is seeking to be the first team in 30 years to win this event three straight years, took a 101-104 loss to resurgent Barangay Ginebra last Sunday in a game where the Texters lacked the sharpness they showed in their previous games.

The Texters won their first five games before losing to Alaska.

Jason Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, Larry Fonacier and Kelly Williams remain as coach Norman Black’s top guns.

Solomon Mercado and Mac Cardona, Meralco’s fiery guard combo, will lead the Bolts.

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