After a one-week layoff, the San Miguel Beermen finally get a taste of semifinals action once again. This is the moment the coaches, the players, and the fans have been waiting for after several disappointing seasons. The only problem is they face probably their worst matchup in the streaking Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters.

The last time these two teams met, it wasn’t pretty for the Beermen, losing 107-99. The defense was atrocious in that one. If they want to win this game and the series, they have to bring their A-game on that end consistently. The gameplan remains the same: avoid turning the ball over, control the pace, and don’t give up open threes. Scoring won’t be much of a problem as San Miguel actually finished the eliminations second behind the Texters (101.7 points per 100 possessions). What they have to watch out is their turnovers as they are fourth in the league in that category (15.1% of possessions). They can’t expect to win if they give up 20 each time. Part of that is also controlling the pace. Going run-and-gun against Talk ‘N Text is like playing with fire and San Miguel got burned badly in their last one. One thing to mention is that the Texters only shot 3/27 from deep versus Ginebra San Miguel. They’re likely to come out firing and the Beermen have to be prepared.

There are also two other things to watch out for. One is how Coach Leo Austria will counter the Texters’ small lineups that wreaked havoc on June Mar Fajardo’s defense. And two is the more talked about Sol Mercado and Alex Cabagnot swap. All eyes will definitely be on Cabagnot and how he’ll fit on the team. There are definitely a lot of questions regarding his return, like if he can make the necessary sacrifices and if he can get past his supposed feud with team captain Arwind Santos. But if he plays well, none of those will really matter.

Just as there are questions on Cabagnot, there are also questions on how San Miguel will finish. They’ve always had good starts only to fizzle out in the end. Hopefully, it’s different this time around. Hopefully, Santos can shed his less-than-sterling playoffs reputations. Hopefully, the team will have the poise and composure to stick it out when the going gets tough. I guess it’s only fitting that they get to face their toughest matchup yet in a seven-game series. No one said redemption was easy.

TIME: 7:00 PM

Featured Image Credit: Paul Mata, Sports 5