San Mig tries to keep the intensity up as Beermen look to complete sweep of TNT Tropang Texters
MVP June Mar Fajardo, playmaker Alex Cabagnot, former MVP Arwind Santos and the Beermen hope to end the series early and get some rest before resuming their title bid. Jerome Ascano

ONE win away from the finals, San Miguel tries to keep the intensity up and finish the job quick the Beermen go for a sweep of Talk ’N Text in Game Four of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

Game time is at 7 p.m. with the Beermen eyeing a first trip to the Finals since losing to San Mig Coffee (now Purefoods) in the 2013 Governors Cup in seven games.

San Miguel had been blazing in the first three games of the best-of-seven series, the Beermen’s one-two punch of reigning PBA MVP June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos boosted into what could be argued as their own version of a Big Three with the recent reacquisition of playmaker Alex Cabagnot.

In three games, the undersized Tropang Texters have yet to find an antidote that could shackle the 6-foot-10 Fajardo, whose size and strength in the paint easily led to series averages of 18.6 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 1.3 blocks.

The 6-4 Santos has been an additional headache for Talk ’N Text coach Jong Uichico with averages of 18.0 points and 6.0 rebounds, while shooting a high 58.8 percent from the field overall in the series.

Cabagnot has also been a thorn on the Texters’ side with his 14.3 points, 4.6 rebounds and 4.0 assists.

But despite the seemingly overwhelming advantage, San Miguel coach Leo Austria keeps reminding his players not to be complacent.

“Sinasabi ko lagi, kailangan manalo kami ng apat na games.  Ang advantage namin is we only need to win one out of four. Yung isang paa namin nandun na (Finals) but the chances of Talk’N Text are still there so we still can’t be complacent,” Austria said.

Uichico admitted that their backs are against the wall at this point, and they will give their very best to win and live to fight for another day.

“We just do the same things.  We know that our backs are against the wall.  It’s gonna be hard, but that’s what the semis is so we still keep the faith and that this time, we’ll take one game at a time,” said Uichico, whose team has never trailed, 0-3 in a best-of-seven series before.

The Texters hope the short rest would work wonders for their weary bodies as they hope to shoot better.

Talk ’N Text shot just a combined 24-of-50 from the stripe in its last two games, a far cry from its elimination round free throw average of 74 percent.


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