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Winner takes all

Brian Heruela
Brian Heruela of Phoenix LPG in action.

LAST dance.

Barangay Ginebra and Meralco, two of the league’s most popular teams, take the floor for the fifth and last time today (Nov. 27) with the PBA Philippine Cup finals berth at stake at the Angeles University Foundation Sports Center in Pampanga.

The winner of the 6:30 p.m. do-or-die encounter will advance to the finals of the coronavirus-interrupted conference, while the loser will leave the bubble and go home.

The other semifinals showdown pitting Phoenix Super LPG and Talk N Text at 3:45 p.m. will have the same win-or-go home scenario.

After four exciting games, the two best-of-five semifinal series in the NBA-inspired bubble are tied at 2-2.

Who will make it to the championship round?

Ginebra coach Tim Cone admitted winning the deciding game against the Bolts will take another collective effort for the Gin Kings.

This is about me and the team. It’s not just about me. It’s never about any player. We’re a team,” said Cone, who is hoping to lead Ginebra to its first finals appearance in the All-Filipino Conference since 2006.

Whoever is doing the right thing at the time, whether he be a player or a coach, we’ll go with that person,” said Cone, the league’s winningest coach with 22 titles.
Cone’s counterpart, Meralco coach Norman Black, remains cautious.

Just like in our battle with San Miguel, we have to win two games to move to the next stage. We’re halfway through now,” said Black, recalling the Bolts’ dramatic 83-80 win over the Gin Kings last Wednesday that forced the decider.

The players to watch are Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar, Scottie Thompson LA Tenorio and Prince Caperal for Ginebra and Chris Newsome, Reynel Hugnatan, Cliff Hodge, Raymond Almazan and Allein Maliksi for Meralco.

Phoenix and Talk N Text will also be looking for the much-needed energy in their own do-or-die encounter.

Odds are again about even between the Fuel Masters, who fnished No. 2 in the elims, and the Tropang Giga, who wound up No. 3.

Phoenix will rely on its usual top players — Matthew Wright, Calvin Abueva, Jason Perkins, Justin Chua and RJ Jazul.

Talk N Text is not lacking in star power with Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Ray Parks, Roger Pogoy and JP Erram.

Worth watching is the scoring battle between Parks, who had 36 points, and Wright, who had 34 points, in their Game 4 battle.

Games Friday:
(AUF Sports Center)
3:45 p.m. — Talk N Text vs. Phoenix
6:30 p.m.- Barangay Ginebra vs. Meralco