The loss of Talk ‘N Text to the STAR Hotshots now puts them at 4-6 with just 1 game left in the conference, which means they are in danger of missing the playoffs if they can’t get that 5th win. There are currently still 5 teams that can end up with a 5-6 record after the elimination round, and these are Meralco (5-4), Purefoods (4-5), KIA (4-5), Barangay Ginebra (4-6), and Talk ‘N Text (4-6). Of these 5 teams, Meralco (6th), Purefoods (7th), and Kia (8th), hold the last three playoff spots, which means the Tropang Texters would still be very much alive in the race to the playoffs if they beat KIA in their match-up. In order to ensure this happens, Talk ‘N Text has to improve on their performance from their last game, specifically in managing their turnovers, shooting the ball better, and getting more stops on defense.
KIA Carnival might not yet be an elite team in the PBA, but they certainly do excel in some categories compared to the rest of the league. For example, KIA’s 6.2 blocks (1st) and 7.6 steals (4th) per game have helped them force opponents to turn the ball over 15.6 times a game (5th). Let’s remember that in the last game of Talk ‘N Text, they allowed the STAR Hotshots to score 21 points off of their 14 turnovers, which is something KIA will be trying to replicate in their contest.
Another category Talk ‘N Text has to look out for is how they manage eFG% in this game. The Tropang Texters are the most efficient team shooting the ball this conference (51.0 eFG%), but at the same time, they are the worst at forcing their opponents to shoot poorly (50.2 Opp. eFG%). KIA on the other hand is the least efficient team (42.8 eFG%), but is the best at limiting their opponents to poor shooting (45.2 Opp. eFG%). Clearly at opposite ends of the spectrum, the team that is able to overcome the strength of the other should have a distinct advantage in this game.
To add another statistic Talk ‘N Text should watch out for, KIA is also an excellent rebounding team, currently averaging 49.1 total rebounds per game, which is 3rd in the league this conference. Further, KIA is also 4th in offensive rebounds, averaging 15.7 per game, just a shade behind San Miguel Beer‘s 15.8 per game. Talk ‘N Text did well in winning the battle on the boards as well as second chance points in their previous match-up with the STAR Hotshots, and they should try to achieve the same against KIA.
But so as not to get so negative from their previous loss, there were some bright spots that appeared form the Tropang Texters in that game, which would hopefully continue to shine against KIA. These bright spots were Ranidel de Ocampo, who had 21 points with 4 three-pointers, and Larry Fonacier, who had 20 points with 4 three pointers as well. I guess I predicted correctly when I thought that De Ocampo was due for a breakout game from his recent shooting slump, and he didn’t disappoint. Fonacier as well continues to wax hot from the field, tallying his second 20-point outing in a row. Hopefully these two, as well as the Tropang Texters, bring their best against the KIA Carnival, since this game will most likely be a must-win to get into the playoffs.
Featured Image Credit: Paul Ryan Tan, PBA Images