TNT calls in bid for 3rd PH Cup
Debuts vs Meralco today; San Mig Coffee tackles AlaskaBy Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Talk ‘N Text starts its bid for a third straight PBA Philippine Cup title today using a style vastly different than the one that dominated the league for the last three years or so.
With Chot Reyes leaving the squad for the Smart Gilas-Pilipinas national team, the Tropang Texters have abandoned the run-and-gun “dribble-drive” offense and will come into their 5:15 p.m. game against Meralco at Smart Araneta Coliseum as a more methodical team.
Norman Black, the Grand Slam-winning coach with San Miguel Beer in 1989, will be handling the Texters starting this season and has infused a more disciplined approach into the Talk ‘N Text game.
But Aboy Castro will call the shots tonight as Black is still coaching the Ateneo Blue Eagles, who are seeking their fifth consecutive UAAP championship.
Crispa was the last team to win the all-Filipino title three straight times, pulling it off in 1982 with a squad that included legends like Atoy Co, Abet Guidaben and Philip Cezar.
Talk ‘N Text became the first team in 28 years last season to repeat as Philippine Cup champion after the defunct Great Taste, and winning again this season could be the greatest motivation for this squad that narrowly missed a Grand Slam last year under Reyes.
San Mig Coffee, formerly B-Meg and the third powerhouse team in the field, slugs it out with a retooled Alaska in the main game at 7:30 p.m.
The Aces will be without LA Tenorio for the first time in four years but will be parading a younger point guard in JV Casio and veteran gunslinger Dondon Hontiveros, whom they acquired from Global Port and Petron Blaze as part of the Tenorio deal.
Cyrus Baguio and Sonny Thoss complete the fearsome quartet of Alaska, which is also awaiting the availability of No. 3 overall Draft choice Calvin Abueva from San Sebastian.
Talk ‘N Text will come into the tournament one big man short with 6-foot-9 beanpole Japeth Aguilar electing to try his luck in the NBA D-League in the United States.
The Texters still have the same personnel that won a second straight Philippine Cup, with Jason Castro and Kelly Williams back from injuries that kept them out of national duty the last two months.
Ryan Reyes, former MVP Jimmy Alapag and the ever-reliable Ali Peek are the other big names returning for Talk ‘N Text.
Meralco is also without a legitimate center after Asi Taulava decided to play in the Asean Basketball League.
Jay-R Reyes and rookie Cliff Hodge will man the slot for the Bolts, who boast prolific scorers Solomon Mercado and Mac Cardona.