FOR Talk ‘N Text coach Jong Uichico, the playoffs begins on Sunday.
Ranged against an Alaska side that is fighting for survival, the Tropang Texters zero in on a top two finish and a twice-to-beat edge in the next round of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup when the two teams tangle in Sunday’s main game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is at 5:15 pm.
“We treat that Alaska game like it’s a playoff game. We’re not assured of a 1-2 spot so we still have to win that game,” said Uichico, whose team is coming off a 113-93 rout of reigning Philippine Cup champion San Miguel Beer on Wednesday.
Currently tied at second spot with Rain or Shine with similar 7-3 slates, Talk ‘N Text can clinch one of the two top seats in the playoffs with a victory over the Aces.
The Aces currently are at seventh spot with a 4-5 record.
A split of their last two elimination round assignment will put the Aces in a dangerous position as teams like Barako Bull, Globalport and expansion franchise KIA - three teams carrying identical 4-6 records – can beat Alaska out for the remaining playoffs berths.
Import Ivan Johnson is coming off his best offensive performance for Talk ‘N Text after pumping in 41 points on an efficient 16-of-24 shooting from the floor against San Miguel.
Uichico feels the former Atlanta Hawks forward has already adjusted to the team’s system, just a month since replacing reigning Best Import Richard Howell.
“The first few weeks, naghahanap pa siya (Johnson) kung saan siya magfi-fit. But if the game against San Miguel is a gauge, he found his fit in the team because he got the ball inside and he got the ball outside,” explained the multi-titled coach.
Alaska veteran guard Cyrus Baguio, meantime, could only hope the team’s last two victories could help the Aces generate the much-needed momentum as they try to weather a difficult time this conference.
Baguio, who scored 12 points and hauled down eight rebounds in Alaska’s 108-103 double-overtime win over Meralco on Tuesday, said everything boils down to how tough the Aces can be mentally.
“Yung sa last conference, kami ang hinahabol. Eh sana ito, maiakyat namin ngayon ang team sa standing. Eh tingin ko, pagod din kasi, gusto magpahinga. Pero alam mo naman laro namin, kaya naman namin, saka ngayon nakakabalik na yung ilang mga injured sa amin,” explained Baguio, a vital piece in Alaska’s 2013 Commissioner’s Cup championship.