Saturday, April 21, 2012

A TOSS-UP


source: pba.ph

Two powerhouse teams, two talented imports and two great minds make up for a real exciting PBA
championship series unfolding Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

For PBA commissioner Chito Salud, it’s the best final match-up arranged in the league in a long
while.

No one seems to have a good argument to disagree.

“Both teams have great talents, players on top of their game. There’s no clear favorite between
them. It’s really exciting and a big treat to the PBA fans,” said Salud during the pre-finals
press conference at the Gateway Suites in Cubao, Quezon City.

It’s a series to remember with the proud defending champion on one side and a formidable
desire-driven challenger on the other side.

Both have their strengths and advantages, and it could be a battle of will and desire as each one pursues their aspiration.

Talk n Text is out to stretch its reign, chasing a second straight championship and fourth in the last two seasons.


B-Meg, on the other hand, hopes to rise back to the top, toasting a championship only in its second conference under coach Tim Cone.

The Llamados are fresher and hungrier, making them dangerous threats to the Tropang Texters who are fighting inroad fatigue following all those battles they’ve gone through in making the finals of all the last five PBA tourneys.

“I agree that’s gonna take its toll on our bodies. That’s a fact that we have to deal with. We
also have to deal with the other side – their being the toughest, tallest and deepest team in the league right now. We need to find a way to beat them,” said Talk n Text coach Chot Reyes.

Cone opined, though, that everyone’s already banged up, his team included, this being the last
stage of a grind.

And even if Talk n Text is worn-out, Cone believes the Tropang Texters have what it takes to fight and live through it with the character and confidence they’ve built, being always there in the finals in the last five conferences.

“Yes, they’ve been playing a lot of games. But I feel on my experience (with Alaska), the
experience you gather doing it over and over again, winning in every conceivable way, makes your
confidence extremely high,” said Cone.

“That’s their edge. But I take that we’re fresh and hungry, and we’ll see how far that takes
us,” Cone added.

The two coaches said the battle could boil down to which team can impose their will over the other.

Talk n Text is the league’s second best offensive team behind Powerade, averaging 100.4 points a
game while B-Meg is the best on defense, limiting its opponents to an average of only 87.06 an
outing.

“It will be close and it will be about who’s able to execute at the finish,” said Reyes.

“If they can play up-tempo, we may not have the chance. But if we can slow them down, make the
game ugly, then we have a chance,” said Cone.

The two know each other so well, being good buddies and having sat on the same bench together here and there.

“Everybody’s talking about triangle offense when Tim’s name is mentioned. But his calling card
really is details in preparation and devotion on defense,” said Reyes of Cone.

“Chot is not just a coach. He’s a leader. He develops leaders in his team. His team grows all
the time and gets better. He’s not sticking to one thing. He uses different systems and he does
well most of the time,” said Cone of Reyes.

They have figured in five title playoffs with Reyes winning in three.

The import matchup likewise promises to be a battle.

“I already have my bag in the van. I’m ready to lace my playing shoes anytime,” said Talk n
Text’s Donnell Harvey.

“This is new to me. It’s a big step in my career and I only intend to go hard in every game and
in every situation,” said B-Meg’s Denzel Bowles.

Curiously, the Tropang Texters whipped the Llamados, 102-96, though playing without an import in
their elimination-round face-off on Feb. 29.

Of course, this is an entirely different game with the championship at stake. (SB)