Four hundred thirty-six days ago, San Mig Coffee dethroned then Philippine Cup champion Talk ‘N Text to end the latter’s three-year reign as All-Filipino Cup title-holders. They went on to win the Philippine Cup trophy and then embarked on a journey that would end in greatness.
The Mixers emerged as Grand Slam champions after two conferences and part of the tiring route was edging the Tropang Texters in separate series in the Commissioner’s and Governors’ Cup conferences of the 2014 season.
The Tropang Texters seemed to have a hard time overcoming the hump when pitted against San Mig Coffee, and for some, their reign as one of the elite teams in the league is slowly coming to a halt.
But everything is now a fraction of the past, and Talk ‘N Text has reloaded with more weapons to boost the team’s arsenal at the start of the 2015 season.
The Tropang Texters and Star Hotshots once again crossed paths, this time in the semi-finals of the current season’s Commissioner’s Cup.
Purefoods overwhelmed Talk ‘N Text in the opener and left Tropang Texters head coach Jong Uichico looking for answers. On paper, it surely appeared the Star Hotshots have the momentum and the advantage in the series, but in Game 2 the Tropang Texters showed the battle is far from being won and they have just about the right tools to get ahead of the road block.
Tim Cone goes big to start ball games, and Uichico avoided a bad start like in Game 1 when he countered Cone’s unit with a big combination of his own without sacrificing much space.
Ivan Johnson, Ranidel de Ocampo, Jay Washington, Jayson Castro, and Larry Fonacier started for Talk ‘N Text and the team would go on a strong start, taking a 21-13 lead by the end of the first period. It was a season-low for Purefoods in first quarter scoring, and defense played a big part in allowing Talk ‘N Text gain cushion.
The Tropang Texters put Washington on Denzel Bowles, while de Ocampo defended Joe Devance. Johnson shut down Marc Pingris and took care of the boards, leading to fastbreak opportunities for the squad.
From there it was toe to toe but overall, Talk ‘N Text displayed more tenacity on both ends of the floor, and made sure observers would notice they aren’t out of the competition yet. The effort especially on defense was noteworthy, and they limited Purefoods to only 15 assists compared to 26 in Game 1 after bothering passing lanes and exerting more energy on defense.
– Jayson Castro is the reigning Commissioner’s Cup Best Player and reminded everyone he is still one of the best players in the league. He finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, four assists, a block, and was 56 percent from the field. In addition, he was a plus-16 on the floor. He is averaging 20 PPG, 6.5 RPG, and 5 APG in the series, and 17-4-5 in the conference.
– Denzel Bowles scored 35 points but the entire team only added 42. Cone have stressed the overreliance throughout the conference, and Bowles’ usage rate (USG%) is a whopping 42.2 percent. Russell Westbrook’s USG% is 38.1 even without much support. LeBron James is 32, James Harden 30.6, and Steph Curry 28.5.
It was opposite of how Talk ‘N Text performed. Johnson was a measly six-for-23 from the field and missed all of his seven three-point attempts, but the locals provided ample support. Five others finished in double digits (Castro 21, De Ocampo 14, Washington 12, Kevin Alas 12, Fonacier 10) in what was a total team effort from the Tropang Texters.
– In many facets of the game, Talk ‘N Text just dominated Purefoods. They posted a commanding 52-22 edge in points in the paint, outrebounded their opponents 56-41 (17-8 offensive boards, and 18 second chance points compared to only four for the Star Hotshots, and had a 15-6 lead in fastbreak points.
Here’s how Purefoods fared in the series opener and in the game last Monday.
Talk ‘N Text showed in Game 2 that like Purefoods, they are one of the elite franchises in the league, despite not winning a title since 2013.
The Tropang Texters have responded to the challenge and it is obvious that the series is far from over and so is Talk ‘N Text’s reign as one of the teams to beat in the league.