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Coca-Cola, Sta. Lucia, Talk n Text, Purefoods in KO matches

EACH of these four teams has shown it can withstand the almost-unbearable pressures of playing for high stakes.

Now comes yet another test of their mettle.

Coca-Cola duels Sta. Lucia Realty and Talk N Text faces Purefoods Friday with no less than the last two quarterfinal slots on the block in the 2009 Motolite PBA Fiesta Conference at the Araneta Coliseum.

“(We are) cautiously optimistic,” said TNT coach Chot Reyes, referring to his team but perhaps speaking for all the rest of the combatants.

The winner of the Coke-Sta. Lucia match proceeds to the best-of-three showdown with Burger King, while that of the Purefoods-TNT setto takes on Rain or Shine.

All the coaches know what is on the block and what it will take to prolong their stint in the season-ending tournament.

“We’ve been practicing well, but anything can happen in a KO game,” said Reyes, whose team followed up a title-romp in the Philippine Cup with a seventh-place finish in the classifications that lined it up in the wildcard’s knockout pairing with No. 6 Purefoods.

“Last chance for us to take the last (quarterfinals) bus,” said Giants coach Ryan Gregorio. “Our mindset is to focus on defense against an offensive superpower in Talk N Text.”

The fact Purefoods’ campaign has also not really been up to expectations by its supporters also gnaw on the Giants.

“It has been a rollercoaster ride for us this conference and luckily we still have a chance,” said Gregorio.

“We are determined to keep on playing and compete for survival until the final buzzer. Winner survives, expect war and when the smoke clears we will do whatever it takes to get to play another game.”

Coke, meanwhile, is on a high following back-to-back wins, the last over Alaska in their playoff duel for the No. 8 spot last Sunday that propelled them to the knockout battle with the fifth-ranked Realtors.

Duremdes also knows Sta. Lucia will play minus last year’s MVP Kelly Williams, indefinitely out with a blood disorder. That fact drastically brings down the Tigers’ concerns.

“We have to limit our turnovers, make good shots para di nila ma-capitalize ang running game nila,” said Duremdes, baring some of their strategies.

“We also have to limit (Sta. Lucia import Anthony Johnson) AJ’s output, lalo na sa offensive rebounds.

”It seems, however, that Sta. Lucia has gotten used to playing without Williams and coach Boyet Fernandez expressed optimism his remaining wards can get the job done, at least Friday.

“It will be an uphill climb without Kelly, but we are ready,” said Fernandez. “Coke is playing very well as a team based on their last two games. We will rely again on our defense if we want to win tomorrow.”

Source: http://www.pba.ph/content/view/2655/1/
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