Talk 'N Text coach Norman Black is carried by his players. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA, Philippines – Talk 'N Text’s Commissioner’s Cup campaign ended on a heartbreaking note but the Texters are determined to put that experience behind them, starting with a solid win over the Meralco Bolts in their first game of the Governors Cup.
Talk 'N Text swept the eliminations of the Commissioners Cup, and ran their winning streak to 13 games en route to a Finals berth. But they ran into a San Mig Coffee team that was peaking at the right time, and lost their best-of-five championship series in four games.
“We’re coming off a Finals loss, so you’d expect that there will be a little problem in our confidence in the beginning,” TNT head coach Norman Black admitted in a PBA.ph report, after the Texters beat Meralco 105-99 on Wednesday.
“It would take a while for them to get on a groove again, get the confidence back, and I expected that anytime you lose a game, not just the Finals,” he added. “Some games, you have a problem getting your confidence back for the whole first quarter before you get back to playing the type of basketball you want to play.”
Despite getting only a brief break between conferences, the Texters still pulled out a victory thanks in part to a 38-point, 13-rebound performance by import Othyus Jeffers. Ranidel De Ocampo fired 22 markers, while Jayson Castro came up huge in crunch time and scored 14 of his 21 points in the final frame.
“It was a good way to start the third conference,” Black said of Wednesday’s victory.
“I told the players that the best way to get back in the groove is just to come out and get a win today, to put the Finals behind us,” he added. “The players responded, and they played very well.”
Meralco very nearly stole the game, leading 97-92 with over two minutes left. But Castro and De Ocampo hit clutch shots to help TNT regain the lead. Castro and Larry Fonacier also made free throws in the final seconds to seal the deal.
“They got a little bit close down the stretch, but Meralco is a good team, and we respect them,” Black said. “They played us hard tonight, but we’re still able to come out with the victory.”
It does not look like Black is expecting the Texters to sweep the Governors Cup elims the way they did in the previous conference.
“We have a good team, but we’re going against other good teams. We’re not head and shoulders above anybody in this league,” he said. “Other teams are also competitive, so you expect them to come out and play hard, make runs, and you just try to respond to them.”
“We’ll just try to win as many games as possible to give us a chance to win it again at the end. That’s our goal right now.”