PBA semifinals start; it’s rest vs momentum
5 p.m.—B-Meg Derby Ace vs San Miguel
7:30 p.m.—Alaska vs Talk ‘N Text
After surviving tough quarterfinal foes, Alaska and B-Meg Derby Ace look to sustain their superb forms against well-rested top seeds Talk ‘N Text and San Miguel today at the start of the PBA Fiesta Conference semifinal series at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Aces, who almost blew a two-game series lead before prevailing over Barangay Ginebra in Game 5 Sunday collide with elimination-round topnotcher Tropang Texters in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series at 7:30 p.m.
The Llamados, who fought back from a 1-2 series deficit to oust Rain or Shine, start their own series with No. 2 seed San Miguel Beermen at 5 p.m.
It will mark the third straight conference that the top four squads at the end of the elimination round advanced to play in the Final Four.
While the Aces and LLamados are hoping to ride the momentum of their thrilling Game 5 victories, the Texters and the Beermen are more concerned on how they’ll overcome the rust stemming from their long layoffs.
“My concern is how we will immediately adapt to the playoff level of play which Derby Ace is already in,” said San Miguel coach Siot Tanquingcen.
The Beermen have not played since July 2 when they beat the Llamados, 88-83, for the second automatic semifinal berth.
“You can only do so much in practice,” said Tanquingcen. “Nothing beats the intensity of a playoff atmosphere and Derby Ace had five games to do that. We need to fast-track this.”
The Tropang Texters, on the other hand, enjoyed an even longer rest. Their last outing was June 23 when they drubbed the Barako Bull Coffee Masters, 112-101.
“There’s no such thing as a banged up or well-rested team in the semifinals—one is riding a momentum while the other is rusty,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes. “This will be a tough series between two evenly-matched teams.”
Providing an interesting sidelight to the Derby Ace-San Miguel showdown is the import duel between newcomer Tony Washam and reigning Best Import Gabe Freeman.
Washam has become an instant sensation for the Llamados, scoring 49 points in the series-clinching overtime win over Rain or Shine.
“With Tony’s arrival, we have become more potent offensively,” said Derby Ace coach Ryan Gregorio, who is hoping to steer the Llamados to a rare sweep of the season crowns.
“Game One is important to gain a head-start. I expect a defense-oriented game and I hope we have enough legs to contend against San Miguel.”
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