With their acquisition of slam dunking forward Kelly Williams and high octane guard Ryan Reyes, Talk N’ Text has become a certified powerhouse and threat to the throne.
In their Tnt debut last Friday, the two stars helped the Tropang Texters get past the Coca-Cola Tigers while displaying a glimpse of what they could contribute for the team.
“For now we’ve got a pretty balanced line-up,” offered TnT coach Chot Reyes.
It may take a while for Williams and Reyes to fully get acquainted with their new roles so Reyes expects the rest of the team to approach the next couple of games with a great sense of urgency.
The next challenge for the Tropang Texters is B-Meg Derby Ace, a team that has been struggling offensively but has been surviving with their suffocating defense.
Reyes realizes the ability of the Llamados to dominate the game and he is prodding his troops to cOme with their A-game in the 7:30 p.m. showdown Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum he dubbed as a battle of offense vs. defense.
Ryan Gregorio, the Derby Ace coach, is just as cautious.
He acknowledged that their defense will be put to test against the high scoring Texters, who are on a six-game winning streak, and it would be a disaster to challenge the league’s second best team (7-2) to a shootout.
Instead, Gregorio said, they intend to disrupt TnT’s rhythm with their lockdown defense that has been holding opponents to 77 points and keeping them in contention despite the absence of star frontliner Kerby Raymundo.
The B-Meg Derby Ace coach said the addition of Williams and Reyes has transformed TnT into a super power that no PBA team can match in terms of roster strength.
“They are very deep in every position and every team that they play against will be considered virtual underdogs. That is an added motivation for us,” Gregorio said.
Gregorio said their goal is to secure a spot in the top 5 that would secure them an outright quarterfinal berth. But a seventh win in 10 games will enable the Llamados, who are on a three-game winning run, to stay within striking distance of leader San Miguel (9-1) and stay in the hunt for an outright semifnal spot.
Alaska also tries to bolster its playoff chances against skidding Coca-Cola in the other game scheduled at 5 p.m.
“We want to see if we can follow up the positive things we established in our last game,” said Alaska coach Tim Cone referring to their defense, rebounding and execution down the stretch that earned them an 82-73 come-from-behind victory over Rain or Shine last Friday to improve to a 5-4 (win-loss) record.
The Aces escaped with a 104-103 decision against the Tigers in their first meeting on May 7 – a win that Cone didn’t find satisfying, calling it “tsamba.
But as the saying goes, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
Bo Perasol, the Coca-Cola coach, would gladly take it anytime.
And why not?
After starting the conference with three consecutive victories, the Tigers have lost six of their next seven games, including a five-game losing run. Overall, Coca-Cola has not won in almost a month, or since beating B-Meg Derby Ace, 79-76, last April 14.“I hope we can find a way to arrest our losing skid. We’re not even thinking about the other remaining games. Just this one,” Perasol said.