Texters open grand slam vs Boosters

by Nelson Beltran, The Philippine Star

Posted at Aug 07 2011 09:12 AM | Updated as of Aug 07 2011 05:12 PM

MANILA, Philippines - In a dream season climax, Talk n Text takes the final stretch of a possible season sweep against the league's winningest team in Petron Blaze, itself once a Triple Crown winner out to carve out another epic feat with an injury-hit lineup.

It's a repeat of their Philippine Cup title showdown but on a grander scale with both teams chasing monumental achievement.

Talk n Text wants the biggest prize a team can catch in the Philippine Basketball Association – a rare feat called "the grand slam."”

For the rest of the teams at this particular moment, no honor is bigger than to be the spoiler of the grand slam-seeker. Petron Blaze is raring to essay that role.

The Boosters are hopeful of their chances though setting out for battle minus injury-stricken stalwarts Jay Washington, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Joseph Yeo and Lordy Tugade.

Talk n Text and Petron Blaze begin their PBA Governors Cup best-of-seven title showdown at 7 p.m. tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

"Yes, we're short-handed but the game is played five-on-five on the playing court. For as long as we have five players on the floor, we're even and we'll do battle," said Petron coach Ato Agustin.

Talk n Text coach Chot Reyes himself considers Petron more potent with its lineup now.

"This series will be 10 times tougher than the last two (Philippine Cup versus San Miguel and Commissioner's Cup against Barangay Ginebra). Petron was the team we didn't want to face in the finals because we haven't beaten them yet," said Reyes.

"They're the type of team which gets stronger if decimated because they're able to maximize the talent of their players. Look at how Arwind Santos' numbers improved as well as guys like Mick Pennisi, Denok Miranda and Jojo Duncil," Reyes added.

The articulate, multi-titled Talk n Text mentor said they have to figure out a way to beat Petron first before thinking of the grand slam.

Santos and Alex Cabagnot churned out double-double games and Sunday Salvacion and Duncil added double-digit markers as Petron upended Talk n Text, 101-96, in their elimination-round duel.

Petron made it two in a row over Talk n Text, 98-83, Friday in a game non-bearing to the Texters but meant so much to the Boosters.

Has Petron got what it takes to beat Talk n Text in the finals? Some coaches believe so.

"Petron matches up with them pretty well. Talk n Text thrives with their energy and hustle. Petron has the players to sustain that type of game," said Ginebra coach Jong Uichico.

Rain or Shine assistant coach Caloy Garcia believes Petron can beat Talk n Text if Ranidel de Ocampo still stays on the bench.

"Ranidel, a big man who can shoot from the outside, plays a big role in their kind of game. No one can fill in his job," said Garcia.

De Ocampo, however, is likely to plunge back into action since he has got a facemask ready to protect his broken nose. He missed their last few games due to the injury suffered in practice.

Reyes will have a complete roster at his disposal – the same lineup that humbled Petron in their Philippine Cup title showdown. The Boosters fell down then with a team including Best Player of the Conference awardee Washington.