TNT Eyes PBA Q’finals Bonus

When multi-titled mentor Norman Black took over as Talk 'N Text head coach, his marching order was to help steer the team to its third straight All-Filipino championship.

Black and the Tropang Texters try to inch closer to that mission when they go for an automatic twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals against fierce rival Petron Blaze in the PBA Philippine Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The game between TNT and Petron is set at 7:30 p.m., while Meralco and Alaska clash at 5:15 p.m.

Despite their superior record of 10-2 as against 6-6 of Petron, Black remains wary, saying the Boosters have improved a lot since they beat them. 92-82 last Nov. 7.

"We expect it to be a tough game. Hopefully we can get the win again, that is our goal in this game," said Black.

One reason why the Texters have to bring their A-game is Petron's improved game - thanks to its new-found confidence.

They have won their last three games, the latest was a 93-83 win over Barako Bull (93-83) in the Phoenix Fuel PBA 'on tour' last Saturday in Lucena City.

Black said the return of 6-foot-10 rookie June Mar Fajardo has made Petron more dangerous.

"They're a lot better team," said Black of Petron, which only had seven healthy players when it played TNT the first time.

Fajardo, the Cebu native who was selected No. 1 overall in the previous PBA Rookie Draft, played his second game in that victory versus Barako Bull after missing six games after he underwent a surgery to remove a blood clot in his scrotum.

Petron is also likely to have Dorian Pena and Danny Ildefonso back in the lineup after missing several games due to injuries.

A win by Talk 'N Text will not just cement a twice-to-beat incentive but the No. 1 seeding in the quarterfinal round. The top two teams after the elimination round will earn twice-to-beat against the No. 7 and 8 finishers.

Still in contention for that twice-to-beat are San Mig Coffee (8-3) and Rain or Shine (8-4). Teams that will finish Nos. 3 to 6 will play in the crossover best-of-three quarterfinal series. The bottom two teams will be eliminated automatically.

Meralco is fresh from a 101-92 win over newcomer Globalport last Friday and will face Alaska, a team eager to end a four-game losing skid.

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