COMING off a historic feat and having topped three of the last four conferences, Talk `N Text seems poised for another title run in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup that reels off Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
For Chot Reyes though, the middle conference of this 37th season should be treated with extreme
After all, in a tournament spiced up with imports, reinforcements can either make or break a team.
“Going into the Commissioner’s Cup, we’re filled with cautious optimism because we will just
start practicing on the 13th (of February) with no idea of how good our import is,” said the
architect behind the rise of the telecommunication franchise as a super power in Asia’s pioneering pro league.
That the Tropang Texters have not played together again as a complete unit has something to do with their recent success as the first team to repeat as Philippine Cup champions in the last 27 years, following their title conquest in the last Philippine Cup at the expense of the overachieving Powerade Tigers.
The best-of-seven Finals ended last January 29, with the Tropang Texters wildly celebrating at
midcourt of the Big Dome in the din of their 110-101 Game 5 win, cementing their status as only the
third team to win the All-Filipino tournament two in a row, but only the first since Great Taste
pulled the trick in 1984-85.
With the defending champions not making their debut until the 17th against sister-team Meralco at the Astrodome, the Tropang Texters had the benefit of a three-week break to soothe their aching bodies and rest tired muscles following the gruelling season-opening campaign.
But at the same time, it didn’t give them any hint of how import Omar Hassan Samhan could play
under the team’s system.
“Getting a good shot at winning the (Commissioner’s) Cup depends on how good your import is, and
we won’t know how good he (Samhan) is until we start practicing with him. And we’ll just start
practicing on the 13th,” said Carey, who, together with reigning MVP Jimmy Alapag, is just one of two Talk `N Text players included in all five championships the franchise has won in the league.
Samhan is listed as 6-foot-11 and played for St. Mary’s College in California, the same school
where Talk `N Text’s man-mountain Ali Peek came.
Born in San Ramon, California, Samhan was named as First Team All-WCC as a senior and junior, WCC Defensive Player of the Year as a senior, and is one of only two players in school history with 1,000 rebounds. He’s also ranked second in scoring in school history with 1,846 career points.
He played for the Dallas Mavericks during the 2010 NBA Summer League, but didn’t make the final
roster that eventually won the NBA championship.
“They say he’s good, but not until we play with him will we know if he’s really good as
advertised,” Carey added.
Not lost on Carey’s consciousness, too, is the fact that by successfully retaining their
Commissioner’s Cup crown, the Tropang Texters will again be on track for a rare Grand Slam.
Last season, the team came close to becoming only the fourth franchise to complete a season sweep of all three conferences, but was foiled in the season-ending Governors Cup by mortal rival Petron Blaze Boosters.
“It was a heartbreaker for us losing the Grand Slam. But at the end of the day, winning two of
three was not bad at all,” said the 32-year-old power-forward Fil-Am out of San Francisco,
Then again, given the chance for another shot at a Grand Slam, Carey said the Tropang Texters will certainly go for it.
“That’s always a goal we’d like to accomplish,” he said.
But first things first – the Tropang Texters will have to keep their Commissioner’s Cup title.