Injury-depleted Talk ‘N Text debuts vs MeralcoBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TALK ‘N Text is in an entirely different situation compared to this time last season.
The Tropang Texters don’t have a shot at completing a Grand Slam; they also have practically none from their starting lineup available in their first game in the PBA Governors’ Cup against Meralco today at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Unlike last year when they came into this tournament like an unstoppable battering ram after winning the first two crowns staked in the year, the Texters will field a severely decimated lineup in their 7:30 p.m. clash with the B-Boys.
Reigning MVP Jimmy Alapag, Ranidel De Ocampo, Kelly Williams, Harvey Carey and Jason Castro are all on the disabled list, and with just three days to practice for the season-ending tournament, coach Chot Reyes has practically zero expectations.
“We will just try our best to battle and find ways to win,” Reyes said. “We have very little expectations and, honestly, we’re not ready at all.”
Crowd-darling Barangay Ginebra parades Cedric Bozeman against Air21 and Zach Greaham in the 5:15 p.m. opener.
The Gin Kings will welcome back Mark Caguioa, their team leader who wasn’t able to suit up in the Final Four of the Commissioner’s Cup against the eventual champion B-Meg Llamados because of a career-threatening eye injury.
The Texters will come into this tournament after a gallant stand in the Commissioner’s Cup title series against B-Meg that took its toll on their key players.
Paul Harris, the man who helped the Texters win the Commissioner’s Cup last year, is back as the Talk ‘N Text import. And Reyes will have little choice but to play the unsung men in his bench, including the 6-foot-9 Japeth Aguilar.
Aguilar has seen little minutes because of his unwillingness to slug it out inside. But considering the manpower woes that the Texters are into, this could be his time to shine, if he decides to take it.
Aguilar, incidentally, was fined P25,000 by the league for failing to make it to the All-Star Week festivities in Laoag City two weeks ago.
Meralco has settled for scorer Champ Oguchi as its import after its first choice, Devin Green, a former Los Angeles Laker in the NBA, failed the 6-foot-5 height test and negotiations with Euro league star Juan Potillo broke down.