MANILA, Philippines - Talk n Text meets former player Japeth Aguilar for the first time on the hard court as the Tropang Texters tangle with the Globalport Batang Pier with both teams out to improve their position behind pacesetting Alaska Milk in the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum tonight.
The Texters will see if Aguilar has really improved as Talk n Text and Globalport battle at 5:15 p.m. preceding the 7:30 p.m. tiff between the Petron Blaze Boosters and the Meralco Bolts.
Aguilar averaged 15.6 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.3 assists, 2.0 blocks and 1.3 steals as the Batang Pier got to a 2-1 start in the mid-season tourney – already a sort of a feat for the Mikee Romero-owned franchise following the team’s woeful 1-13 showing in the recent Philippine Cup.
It could have been 3-0 if not for their endgame fold-up that led to an 88-98 loss to Barako Bull Energy in overtime on Feb. 10.
"Japeth (Aguilar) is playing well, and we also have to find a way to control Sol Mercado and Gary David while also focusing on how to keep their import off the offensive board," said Talk n Text coach Norman Black.
For Globalport coach Junel Baculi, it’s about his whole team needing to further raise the level of its game while up against the three-peat Philippine Cup champions.
"It's a tough test for us and individual defense is important," said Baculi. "Talk n Text is such an explosive offensive team that we have to toughen up our defense and use our strengths."
After dropping its conference debut with a depleted lineup versus Meralco, Talk n Text bounced back with an 86-83 win over Air21 Friday.
It was an ugly victory, though, where the Texters blew away a 22-point spread and needed clutch baskets by import Keith Benson at the finish to pull through.
And that's one reason making the Talk n Text coach wary of the vastly improved Globalport team.
"It's another game where we want to continue to improve especially on defense," said Black, specifically concerned with Globalport's triumvirate of Aguilar, Mercado and David.
Benson and Globalport counterpart Justin Williams are expected to cancel each other out. The key could well be the local matchups.
The Texters regained much energy and versatility on the return of Kelly Williams in their last game, and they took control most of the way against the Express even on the continued absence of Ali Peek.
Williams and Aguilar are up against one another in one of exciting matchups tonight.
Aguilar was backup to Williams and Ranidel de Ocampo in a season stint with Talk n Text. The 6-foot-9 behemoth averaged only 6.6 rebounds and 4.1 rebounds on his role as a reliever.