WHAT a difference a year makes.
Defending champion Petron and Talk `N Text, protagonists in last year’s PBA Governors Cup Finals, both face must-win situations against separate opponents on Wednesday night in their bid to stay alive for a championship berth in the season-ending conference.
The Boosters take on second-running B-Meg Llamados in the main game of a semis doubleheader at the Smart Araneta Coliseum while the Tropang Texters relatively lighter assignment in also-rans Meralco Bolts in the curtain raiser.
Both teams, curiously, are coming off similarly costly losses.
The Tropang Texters bowed to the Llamados in the first PBA match played at the newly built Mall of Asia Arena, 91-94. The Boosters, on the other hand, dropped a heartbreaking 85-87 loss to Barangay Ginebra on the night the Kings retired Robert Jaworski’s famed No. 7 jersey.
The twin setback pushed both teams to the brink of eliminations, now needing to sweep all their remaining games for a shot at a playoff berth for the second finals slot under the four-of-five incentive in the semis.
Talk `N Text has an even 5-5 card and will have to win its last four games, while Petron is at 6-5 with three games left in its schedule.
“One miss we die,” said Talk `N Text coach Chot Reyes of his team’s situation.
The Boosters, meanwhile, will have to contend with a Llamados side that is coming off a rousing win over the Tropang Texters despite missing the services of main man James Yap for most of the game owing to back spasms.
But the bad news for Petron is the imminent return of Yap in the lineup despite his hurting back. The two-time league MVP failed to score in 14 minutes of play the last time, but was already able to practice with the team on Tuesday.
B-Meg (7-3) is definitely looking for a big follow-up win as it tries to stalk league leader Rain or Shine (9-2), although things are easily said than done.
“It’s a big job for us to beat Petron,” admitted B-Meg coach Tim Cone, whose Llamados lost to the Boosters in the eliminations, 80-92.
So far, Meralco (4-7) is the only team eliminated in the semifinals, although the Bolts are looking to win their last three matches in the hope of ending their first semis stint on a winning note.
“We want to finish our last three games in grand fashion. We’ve dropped our last two games and we want to bounce back and get back on the winning track,” said Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio.