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TnT willing to play in knockout match

Jervy Cruz of Rain or Shine stretches up for a layup against Rafi Reavis of Purefoods in Friday’s quarterfinal game won by the Rain or Shine, 103-100. JUN MENDOZA

MANILA, Philippines - Barring a Talk n Text no-show, the KFC PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal round climaxes tonight with a double knockout at the Araneta Coliseum.

Talk n Text board representative Ricky Vargas said he would recommend to Smart-PLDT chairman Manny V. Pangilinan that the Tropang Texters return to play tomorrow on condition that “we be assured of fairness and the refs associated with these unfairness not be allowed to officiate.”

The Texters and the Barangay Ginebra Kings are scheduled to meet in a do-or-die game at 6:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to the semifinal round versus the Alaska Milk Aces.

Purefoods and Rain or Shine clash in a separate knockout duel at 4 p.m. with the victor arranging a semis confrontation with San Miguel Beer.

Talk n Text enabled Ginebra to force a deciding Game Five after the Texters walked out of the game Friday night in protest of officiating.

“We will not hesitate to walk out again if such unfairness continues. We cannot, as a matter of principle, tolerate biased officiating in the PBA,” said Vargas.

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League chairman Lito Alvarez made a personal appeal to the Talk n Text team to play for the sake of Filipino basketball fans.

“Millions of basketball-loving Filipinos from here and abroad are closely monitoring the developments of this great match-up. Let’s give this one to them,” said Alvarez in his appeal to the Smart-PLDT chair.

“I completely understand your position. We heard your actions loud and clear. In my capacity as chairman of the PBA board, I would like to assure you that we will not let your sacrifices go to waste. We will all take action to make our PBA -- the league we all love -- an even better league,” Alvarez added.

League commissioner Sonny Barrios deferred sanction on Talk n Text’s walkout but upheld the flagrant foul penalty 2 on Ranidel de Ocampo, meaning the 6-foot-6 center-forward is suspended from playing in Game Five.

“There’s no penalty meted on the walkout yet because it’s more important to Talk n Text the status of Ranidel de Ocampo. As sportsmen, they accepted the decision but not necessarily agreed,” said Barrios.

The Texters insisted all the league guidelines on flagrant infractions were not present on De Ocampo’s foul on Tubid. They trooped to their dugout after it was called “F-2” by the refs.

Talk n Text team manager Virgil Villavicencio said practice was cancelled yesterday but the players are ready to play today.

The Texters are looking to defend the crown they won over the Alaska Milk Aces last year.

In the other series, both the Giants and the Elasto Painters are confident they would pull through.

“In a do-or-die match, you throw away all the stats and all the things that happened in the last four games. You just make sure that you bring along your big fighting heart,” said Purefoods coach Ryan Gregorio.

“It has turned out to be a classic match-up and it is nice to have a chance to play in Game Five despite being slowed down by injuries. If it requires inflammatory shots for our injured players to play, we’ll do it to salvage the conference,” Gregorio added.

Among the Giants nursing injuries are Kerby Raymundo (thigh), Rico Maierhofer (ankle), Paul Artadi (hamstring), James Yap (sore back) and Peter June Simon (knee).

Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia said the Giants still have the edge because of experience and talent but the Elasto Painters can score an upset with their big fighting heart.

Rain or Shine has survived four knockout games in the tournament so far, and the Elasto Painters are raring to make it five in a bid to stay in contention for a breakthrough finish.

“We want to carve a niche for our ball club. That’s our biggest motivation,” said Garcia.

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