MANILA, Philippines - After slamming Talk n Text’s grand slam aspiration the last time, the Petron Blaze Boosters are now aiming at duplicating the Tropang Texters’ back-to-back championships.
“If they’re able to win back-to-back, we feel we can do the same. That’s our motivation,” said Petron main man Arwind Santos.
Personally, Santos believes they can go all the way to win the championship if they’re able to hurdle the Tropang Texters in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal showdown beginning Thursday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Rain or Shine and Powerade start their own semis confrontation Wednesday in the same venue.
“I really feel we can go all the way if we’re able to get past Talk n Text,” said Santos in Filipino.
The Boosters are confident of their chance despite bowing to the Texters in their two faceoffs in the elimination round.
“Same thing happened last conference. They beat us twice in the elims but we pulled through in the finals,” said Santos, the leading contender for the Best Player of the Conference award.
The wiry forward, however, stressed they’re in for a tough test against the Texters whom he considers the team with the deeper bench.
“They’re more solid with their players having recovered from injuries. On our side, Chris Lutz and Alex Cabagnot are not yet fully healed,” said Santos.
Santos said the key for them is to match the Tropang Texters’ energy.
“They keep on running. We have to keep up with them if not slow down the tempo,” said Santos.
“Good thing for us is that everyone is committed to play defense. If we’re able to improve our individual defense, team defense will follow,” Santos added.
The Tropang Texters scored their second win in the tourney against the Boosters on Dec. 6, a 80-78 decision that assured TnT a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
The Texters stunned the Boosters and practically everyone at the Smart Araneta Coliseum by coming up with four points in the last 3.7 seconds to pull off the come-from-behind win.
Japeth Aguilar returned to the floor in those dying seconds to grab a crucial offensive rebound and make a three-point play as the Texters salvaged the game that guaranteed them of second spot in the elimination phase.
“We’ve put that behind us. This is a new ball game,” said Santos. - By Nelson Beltran