TNT: Stop Rain, keep the reign

By Nelson Beltran, The Philippine Star

Posted at Jan 09 2013 08:54 AM | Updated as of Jan 10 2013 12:43 AM

PBA Finals unfolds

MANILA, Philippines - Talk 'N Text hopes to go back-to-back-to-back and extend its reign over a Rain or Shine team that has become the league's emerging power with accent on physical game.

That makes their best-of-seven series for the PBA Philippine Cup crown a must-see beginning with Game One at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight.

The Tropang Texters are in the process of building on a dynasty in the all-Filipino while the Elasto Painters, with their blue-collar work ethic, go for another title that will validate their claim as a new force to reckon with in the league.

After their final workout yesterday, both teams declared they’re ready for war.

"We will play as physical as long as the referees will allow. Referees will decide the limit of the physicality of the battle," said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao, hinting at how physical the battle can be.

With their own rugged players, Talk n Text can withstand the Elasto Painters’ brand of play.

Gametime is at 6:45 p.m.

PBA commissioner Chito Salud himself anticipated a highly charged series but stressed the two teams can engage in a physical game but unnecessary roughness won't be permitted.

"No touch foul. The refs will only call what is obvious and clear contact. But this doesn't permit unnecessary roughness," Salud warned.

Guiao insisted that they're the underdog but TnT coach Norman Black shrugged off his counterpart’s claim, saying the games will have to be won on the hard court.

Records are on TnT's side. In five meetings from the Philippine Cup last season, Talk n Text has lost to Rain or Shine just once. In the current tourney, the Texters have lost only four games and none to the Elasto Painters.

But the Elasto Painters remain unfazed by the Texters and confident of their chances. The fiery RoS mentor said their advantage in youth and desire can carry them to victory.

"We remain the youngest among the 10 teams. Prior to the last conference, nobody in our team had any championship experience. Now they have one, and one is enough for us to go for another one," said Guiao.

The Elasto Painters may feed on the energy of their young cast in the grueling series but the Texters believe they have the tools to go through a long haul.

"The way I look at it, this series is going to take two and a half weeks. That's not much in terms of age. If it goes to a Game Seven then it goes to a Game Seven and we’ll see how it plays out," said Black.

"I have very good players. I consider myself a good coach but I'm not going to win basketball games without talented players who are willing to work hard and are dedicated to winning," said Black, a coach with impressive winning records.

Black maintains he doesn’t care how long the series would go but Guiao prefers a championship that would run the course since he could rely on hardworking young players.

"The longer the series goes, the better for us. We just want to hang around and give us a chance. That’s all we want. If we can hang on and bring it to Game Seven, well and good. If we have a chance, it's up to us (to win it)," said Guiao.

Jimmy Alapag topscored with 15 points and added seven assists and two steals while Ranidel de Ocampo contributed 13 points and 10 rebounds as the Texters turned back the E-Painters, 80-77, in their elims matchup.

But Paul Lee and Chris Tiu were still injured then but they have since recovered and have played vital roles in Rain or Shine’s march to the finals following their victories over Barangay Ginebra and their semis win over San Mig Coffee.

Talk n Text made the finals after a dominant run in the elimination round which the team sustained in disposing of Air21 in the quarters then Alaska Milk in the semis.

Aside from Alapag and De Ocampo, Jayson Castro, Kelly Williams, Larry Fonacier, Ryan Reyes, Jarred Dillinger and Ali Peek are the players that are likely to give TnT major boost.

Though not having established stars, Guiao also has a deep rotation, including Lee, Tiu, Jeff Chan, Jervy Cruz, Beau Belga, Gabe Norwood, Larry Rodriguez, JR Quinahan, Jireh Ibanes, Ryan Arana, Ronnie Matias and TY Tang.