NEWLY crowned Philippine Cup champion Talk ‘N Text begins its quest for back-to-back titles when it takes on a new-look Meralco side in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Saturday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The 8 p.m. match features a lot of sub-plots other than the showdown between imports Keith Benson of the Tropang Texters and Eric Dawson of the Bolts.
Rabeh Al-Hussaini’s reunion with former college coach Norman Black is among them.
After being acquired in a recent trade with Globalport that involved another controversial big man in Japeth Aguilar, former Rookie of the Year Al-Hussaini will be looking to find his place in an already formidable Talk `N Text frontline.
Al-Hussaini, who won a UAAP men’s title and adjudged league MVP while playing for Black at Ateneo, averaged 8.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.3 assists for the Batang Pier in the Philippine Cup.
But whether he gets to keep those decent numbers for the Tropang Texters remains to be seen since the reigning three-time All-Filipino champions are loaded at the frontcourt with the presence of veterans Ali Peek, Harvey Carey, and Kelly Williams.
Like Talk `N Text, Meralco also has issues to answer.
The Bolts will be without star guard Sol Mercado, who they traded away to Globalport along with rookies Kelly Nabong and JP Belencion, and reserve forward Yousef Aljamal.
The Bolts got Rey Guevara, rookie forward Vic Manuel, Josh Vanlandingham, and a future first-round pick in return.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said the move to ship out Mercado was a direction that management was willing to take in its bid to improve the team’s roster.
“While none of them (new acquisitions) are go-to players, I think they will complement scorers like Macmac Cardona. On the other hand, our problem in big man can be answered by our import Eric Dawson,” said Gregorio.
Dawson comes into the league carrying the most impressive credentials among this year’s imports, having been named the 2012 NBA Developmental League Impact Player of the Year after helping the Austin Toros reach the playoffs behind a league second-best record of 33-17.
In 29 games with the Toros, Dawson averaged 17.2 points and 10.7 rebounds while shooting 56 percent from the field.