MANILA—Very few thought that the PBA Governors’ Cup title series would reach Game 6.
And even fewer expected that it would be undermanned Petron Blaze that will get a shot at winning it Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With momentum on their side, the Boosters shoot for the clincher at 7 p.m. against a Talk ‘N Text side whose Grand Slam bid is now in serious jeopardy with Jason Castro out of it all with an injury and its import doing a disappearing act.
Castro, the co-Finals MVP with Jimmy Alapag in the Philippine and Commissioner’s Cups, has been ruled out for the remainder of the series because of an MCL tear.
And what looked like a very formidable, unbeatable lineup at the start now seems to be very much conquerable, even for a Petron squad missing at least three stars.
“They are losing a lot with Castro out,” Petron coach Ato Agustin admitted after taking a 93-80 victory Wednesday night that moved the Boosters on the threshold of accomplishing what seemed like mission impossible in the beginning.
With Castro out, not only are the Texters missing close to 18 points a night, but the team is also without a gung-ho guy that finishes breaks, tears down defenses and defends like crazy on the other end.
And with American reinforcement Scottie Reynolds proving a big disappointment, TNT coach Chot Reyes has decided to re-activate original import Maurice Baker, though the firebrand drillmaster didn’t sound optimistic when he announced the move Wednesday night.
“We have no idea if he’ll be ready with one day’s practice,” Reyes said of Baker, who has stuck around even after being replaced by Reynolds early in the elimination round.
Reynolds was a heavy baggage to carry for the Texters in the Finals, and Reyes minced no words in expressing his disappointment after Game 5.
“May import ba kami (Do we have an import)?” Reyes said in disgust after Reynold fired just five points in 33 minutes Wednesday. “Their import (Anthony Grundy) is just fantastic. Our import just sucks.”
Grundy scored 26 points and had 11 rebounds that went with six assists in a terrific all-around effort for Petron. Arwind
Santos and Danny Ildefonso also completed double-doubles, while the Texters barely got a third man in twin digits in Ali Peek.
The Talk ‘N Text offense simply sputtered Wednesday. The squad was held to nine points in the first quarter and 80 for the game – both all-time lows in the Chot Reyes coaching era.
“We have to give credit to them, they’re playing terrific defense on us,” Reyes said after Game 5. “We have to bear down and find a way because now we’re the underdogs.”
Baker played in the first eight games of the Texters with his last appearance coming last July 17 against Air21. He had 10 points and two rebounds in a 145-116 rout of the Express.
Talk ‘N Text is hoping to extend the series to a Game 7 Sunday and nail just the fifth Grand Slam in the league.
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