THE UPCOMING PBA Philippine Cup Finals between Rain or Shine and Talk ‘N Text will have a handful of intangibles that could very well decide the series. Here goes:
COACH’S MOTIVATION—We have two opposing coaches with more than enough reasons to want this PBA title. For Yeng Guiao, winning this crown means finally adding the All-Filipino plum to his collection of six. He’s tried twice before to win it but ended up losing both times.
Norman Black has 10 PBA titles, winning his last one with Sta. Lucia in 2001. Adding one more PBA conference crown doesn’t hurt because he’ll be back in the race with Tim Cone in chasing Baby Dalupan’s record. Dalupan won 15 conference titles, Cone has won 14.
Black would also want to preserve TNT’s dominance of this conference. The Tropang Texters are going for their third straight All-Filipino crown.
Both coaches will acknowledge that this will be a grind-out series between two tough teams that will not refuse to tumble and rumble. It will be up to them to keep their teams together in each battle of the seven game duel.
FRONT COURT SHELF LIFE—The coaches will underscore repeatedly the need to control the rebounds in every game. In so doing, there will be hand-to-hand combat duels for position upfront on both court ends.
The team that manages its fouls properly and keeps its key front-court players for more minutes could have a decided edge in the rebound battles.
Talk ‘N Text should be wary of Guiao’s All-Scrap team that likes every rebound in sight, whether they are offensive or defensive kinds. These include Beau Belga, JR Quiñahan, Ronnie Matias and Larry Rodriguez. On the other hand, Guiao’s front court should engage TNT’s big men like Kelly Williams, Ali Peek and Ranidel De Ocampo without fouling too much or encouraging the refs to blow their whistles.
COOLING THE HOT HAND—Both teams will prepare unforgiving defenses to prevent the other from doing what it likes offensively. But the key adjustment in the series will be who reacts better defensively when the opponent begins to wax hot.
Talk ‘N Text has so many weapons in its arsenal both in the backcourt and front that the Elasto Painters will have to deal with. TNT will have to react quickly when Rain or Shine goes into those shooting streaks when Paul Lee, Chris Tiu and Gabe Norwood percolate.
A SURPRISE OFF THE BENCH—We’ll leave this to the coaches but we’ve seen it through the years that there’s always one or two players who don’t see too much action but finally get the limelight in the finals.
Because of injuries or foul trouble some key players may find themselves in, a rarely used player will step in and provide the punch the team needs to carve out a win.
ONE MORE FOR THE ROAD—The outcome of this one is hard to predict. Rain or Shine already won a championship and has matured over a year. It wants to win again to reaffirm its new position as one of the power teams of the league. Meanwhile, Talk ‘N Text has never tired of winning and that makes it a tough team to play.
Let’s see how the intangibles play out.