WHAT THE GAME MEANS:
For a newly-put-together, momentum-driven Alaska Aces squad, this may as well be now or never. The last thing you want to give the two-time defending Philippine Cup champs is a chance to break a game, much less a series, wide open. When they’re confident, Alaska is the most dangerous team in the league. When they can smell a chance for a close-out W, TNT is near-automatic. That’s why Game 4 means so much to both these teams. In what has been a less-than-friendly first three games, Norman Black and the Texters surely want to avoid injury and get their vets some rest. Luigi Trillo and the Aces on the other hand, believe they finally have the pieces to put together a title run. It will all depend on whether they can position themselves to take the lead later on in Game 5, or play catch-up against Usain Bolt in a sprint.
WHAT TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Bodies hitting the floor. I’m not saying a fight will break out (although a fight will probably break out), but these two teams have really gotten to know each other over the course of three games and have realized that they really don’t like each other. Talk N Text has always been a cool, fluid, calm, well-oiled machine. However, going head-to-head with The Beast tends to light a fire under anyone. Calvin Abueva is the most passion-driven player the PBA has seen in ages. His intensity infects teammates and sometimes rubs opponents the wrong way. While TNT usually doesn’t fight back, they also don’t like losing. The key to Game 4, and the rest of the series, will be who can push without pushing too much. Who will get rough without going too far? It’s too late to reel back the physicality now, but keeping calm in spite of it will be the trick to pulling out Ws in what has been a close series. Mapikon, talo.
WHO TO WATCH OUT FOR:
Cyrus “I’m Not Suspended” Baguio. TNT wanted Skyrus suspended after running over Jayson Castro in Game 3. Instead, his Flagrant 2 earned him a P30,000 fine, and clearance to suit up for Game 4. While Luigi Trillo maintains it was just a duty foul, and Baguio says he didn’t mean to floor The Blur, it certainly looked like the hardest hit so far, in a series full of hard hits.
If Cyrus erupts and plays like the elite shooting guard he sometimes is, then that decision to not suspend him will most definitely be something people will talk about for the rest of the conference. Many feel Alaska got a break on the ruling; now it’s up to them to make the most of it. Game 4 will be another hard-hitting affair. It won’t be pretty. It will be gritty. And much how games like that usually go, it will go down the wire. Here’s to hoping no one gets hurt.
Photos c/o Interaktv