Squared up after four games, Rain or Shine and Magnolia Pambansang Manok face off in a critical match Wednesday, slugging it out for the crucial 3-2 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal series at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Elasto Painters and the Hotshots clash at 7 p.m., disputing the upper hand, control and momentum going to Game Six Friday.
The well-rested chargers of coach Caloy Garcia went on a smooth sailing in the first two games but coach Chito Victolero and his troops have since shifted the tide on their favor in winning the next two matches.
At 2-2, both teams, however, remain confident of their chance to advance to the finals.
"I think we've gained momentum and it's on us to sustain what we've doing in the last two games," said Victolero whose Magnolia squad sent the series back to scratch on their 85-74 triumph in Game Three followed by a 94-91 decision in Game Four.
"The series is tied, and no one has got the advantage," said Garcia, defiant despite their back-to-back defeats.
Garcia is sticking with the positives, including the way they fought back from a 21-point deficit in Game Four that they nearly salvaged in the end.
But Victolero stressed a win is a win, and that they would build on their back-to-back triumphs.
Both sides, however, foresee a fierce Game Five battle.
"It's now a virtual best-of-three affair, and the first game is very crucial," said James Yap, exploding for a personal series high of 24 points Monday.
Though coming up short in their fightback Monday night, Garcia liked what he saw just on the TV monitor following his ejection late in the third period.
He's now planning to press a lot more in the next game.
"We just have to find ways to win. Probably come Game Five, we have to be more physical," said Garcia.
"We became more physical in the second half of Game Four, that's why we're able to come back. So we have to be ready for a 'survival of the fittest' type battle," he added.
The Hotshots, however, promise to be ready.
"We will not give up, we will not give in, we will fight until the end just like we did last Monday," said Victolero. (SB)