TNT KaTropa and Rain or Shine, the playoff second seed and seventh-ranked squad that are now on equal footing, dispute the last berth in the PBA Governors Cup Final Four in a do-or-die encounter at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday.
Game time is at 7 p.m. with the momentum and the psychological advantage now on the side of the lower seed following the Elasto Painters' 106-102 win over the Texters in their initial quarterfinal tiff Wednesday night over at the MOA Arena in Pasay City.
Rain or Shine has actually beaten TNT twice in the tourney - the first a 105-73 rout in the elims - and the E-Painters now ride the momentum of a three-game romp as they seek a best-of-five semifinal showdown with the defending champs Barangay Ginebra Kings.
Ginebra advanced to the semis Wednesday on a 104-84 conquest of Philippine Cup and Commissioner's Cup titleholder San Miguel Beer.
Despite the loss Wednesday, the Texters remain positive, hopeful they can sustain the momentum of their late charge the last time in the sudden death tonight.
Down by 20 points in the last six minutes of the game, the Texters were still able to get back into the fight on a 20-4 closing flurry. They just ran out of time in their rally.
"Hopefully, we can play with the same intensity and aggressiveness from start to finish (in the rubber match). We got off to a flat start (Wednesday)," said TNT main man Jason Castro.
"Hopefully, we learn our lesson and come out strong from that loss," said TNT coach Nash Racela.
Technically, Castro and Racela said they need to find a way to limit the numbers of Rain or Shine import J'Nathan Bullock and contain the ROS shooters.
Bullock sizzled Wednesday with 31 points, including seven three-pointers, as against Glen Rice Jr.'s 19.
Castro expects their import to bounce back strong.
"For sure, Glen will play well in the next game," said Castro, not recalling their import to having back-to-back off nights.
ROS coach Caloy Garcia, however, is comfortable with their matchups with the Texters.
"From the beginning, I believe we have a good matchup with them from the import to the locals," Garcia said.
Garcia, however, said they have to play a little different in their rubber match if they're to steal the series from the playoffs second seed.
"We have to do something new. It's going to be a duel of strategies," he said.
Their 16-of-43 three-point shooting in the first game prove to be the key as the E-Painters lived to play another game.
"I encourage them to take it. I'd rather them take open shots than to turn the ball over," said Garcia, still finding a lot of able gunners from his roster in the absence of the injury-hit James Yap.
The two-time MVP winner's status is still day-to-day.