Black’s TNT as great as ’83 CrispaBy: Musong R. Castillo
Philippine Daily Inquirer
TALK ‘N Text will go down in PBA folklore as one of the best teams ever; a squad painstakingly assembled several years back with nothing but greatness in mind.
By ruling the Philippine Cup for the third straight season with a 4-0 sweep of Rain or Shine Wednesday night, the Tropang Texters carved their names permanently in the annals of Asia’s first play-for-pay league.
They achieved what only one team was able to do before, a feat which only Crispa owned for so long that very few people thought it would ever be duplicated.
So now comes the question: Had these teams been on the same era, which would have been better?
Talk ‘N Text lost just four of 24 games this time, two of them coming in the eliminations and two against Alaska in the Final Four.
In Crispa’s all-Filipino run in 1983, the Redmanizers, according to coach Tommy Manotoc’s recollection, lost just the first game and “I don’t remember losing again for the rest of the tournament.”
The Redmanizers ripped Gilbey’s Gin apart, also scoring a sweep, but at that time, in a best-of-five series.
“It would have been a toss-up,” Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black said. “That team had a superstar in every position. It was actually ridiculous. I played against that team several times and I know how good all of them were.
“If at all, the only advantage we have is that we could be the more athletic team because of Kelly Williams,” Black added. “All things being equal, I think it would be a great game or series. But I really cannot say who will win because that (Crispa) team was great.”
Black, like Manotoc, also owns a Grand Slam, pulling it off while with San Miguel in 1989, while Manotoc had his in Crispa’s swan song season of 1983, when Billy Ray Bates played as an import in two of the three conferences.
“I think we were as deep as Talk ‘N Text is today,” Manotoc told the Inquirer yesterday. “The only difference I can see if you compare them (Texters) with Crispa in 1983 is that they have Fil-Ams now.”
“And in that regard, with Kelly Williams and Ali Peek there, they have more horsepower than we did in 1983,” Manotoc continued. “But looking at their lineup, and remembering my team, we’re practically the same in the sense that we can both win games using our second units.”
“We are basically the same as far as depth goes because both of those teams can go 10-deep on any given night,” Black said. “In those days, you didn’t know who would star for Crispa in a particular game, like in my team now, I’m the coach, yet I don’t know who is going to be the star of any game.”
It would have been enjoyable to find out whether Ryan Reyes and Jared Dillinger could shut down scorers like Atoy Co and William “Bogs” Adornado; or whether Jason Castro is quicker than Bernie Fabiosa; and how a smooth center like Abet Guidaben could operate in a very physical atmosphere against the likes of Peek, Williams and Ranidel de Ocampo.
And Black admits that Crispa in 1983 could have been younger, because that time, the likes of Yoyoy Villamin, Mon Cruz, Padim Israel, etc., were recruited and were on the way to stardom themselves.
“Another thing that is very different is that the players are more conditioned in these days,” Manotoc said. “The players today are obviously stronger. But I think, if it (Crispa-Talk ‘N Text) is a best-of-seven series, even with the physical conditioning that we had before, we can hold our own.”
Black echoes that fact, acknowledging that teams these days have physical therapists and nutritionists that take care of the players. And in those days, Manotoc and Black were one in saying that players didn’t do physical conditioning that much.
It’s really impossible to know how both Crispa and Talk ‘N Text would fare against each other. It won’t happen.
And while everyone is harping about the ‘three-peat’ of the Redmanizers that the Texters had matched, it seems that this fact has escaped everyone’s mind up to now: Talk ‘N Text is now in a position to win four straight, and if it does so next season, then all bets are off.