SMELLING blood, Talk ‘N Text tries to put an end to Purefoods’ championship reign as it seeks a Finals berth in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup when the two rivals meet anew in Saturday’s Game Four at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Texters won the last two games of the best-of-five semifinals series to grab a 2-1 lead and move within a victory of making it back to the championship round.
And while his team has two cracks at clinching a Finals berth, coach Jong Uichico said the Tropang Texters need to put on a ‘do-or-die’ mentality in order to complete their mission of dethroning the Hotshots and arrange a championship date with Rain or Shine.
“We just have to play hard because you don’t know what their (Hotshots) adjustments will be. They’re (in a) do-or-die (situation), but for us, we should play (with a ) do-or-die (mentality) also,” said Uichico.
Game time is at 5 p.m.
The Tropang Texters are coming off a hot-shooting night in Game Three, which saw them knock down 14 of their 23 attempts from the three-point land on the way to a 111-107 victory.
Combo guard Jayson Castro went 8-of-9 from the three-point territory to finish with a team-high 27 points for Talk ‘N Text.
But even if his team shot impressively overall from the field (56 percent) the last time, Uichico believes the game will still boil down to making stops, especially in the Tropang Texters’ effort to contain Purefoods import Denzel Bowles.
The 6-foot-9 Bowles remains a monster on offense after averaging 41 points in the first three games of the series.
But the multi-titled Talk ‘N Text coach insisted there won’t be any major defensive adjustment on the team’s part except to continue tiring out the former Best Import through their three-man defensive rotation of Jay Washington, Ranidel de Ocampo, and Kelly Williams.
“It’s been like that in the series (rotating his big men on defense against Bowles). It’s not a secret. Coach Tim saw it,” said Uichico, who is looking to put an end to Purefoods' 4-0 series record against the Talk 'N Text franchise since Tim Cone took over the franchise’s coaching reins in 2012.
On the other hand, Purefoods veteran Joe Devance said it is imperative for the team to slow Castro down, aware the diminutive Talk ‘N Text guard dictated the tempo and took over in Game Three.
“Jayson is playing great basketball right now. So we’ll see what we can do,” said the 6-foot-7 Devance.
“We need to slow him (Castro) down a little bit. He’s the one breaking us down because he’s such a great basketball player. So we just need to do a better job from here on.”