WITH the usual title contenders beefing up their frontline, Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao is hoping Talk 'N Text big wigs won't get the idea of acquiring top slotman Asi Taulava from sister team NLEX Road Warriors.
Guiao said Rain or Shine can only rely on scrappy big men like Beau Belga, JR Quinahan and Raymund Almazan, who all give up a lot in terms of size to counterparts from other teams like San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra and Purefoods Star.
Although the Elasto Painters are the first team to the semifinals, Guiao can't help but be worried over the news that Purefoods has boosted its frontline with the acquisition of veteran big man Mick Pennisi from Barako Bull and that Dorian Pena may likely return to San Miguel.
Will Talk 'N Text make the next move?
“Hindi malayong maisipan nila yun at maraming magaling sa kanila at marunong mag-isip,” said the six-time champion coach. “'Pag nangyari yun (Taulava’s transfer to Talk 'N Text), lalo pa silang magiging formidable nyan.”
The outspoken Pampanga congressman believes that even without a dominant center, Talk 'N Text is already "one of the most rounded teams in the league."
“Ang pinaka well rounded na team ngayon, kahit saang posisyon… sa loob, sa labas, sa depensa, sa opensa, Talk 'N Text ang well-balanced team,” he said.
Former Air21 Express coach Franz Pumaren said that although Talk n Text may have a very solid team right now, the Jong Uichico-mentored squad may struggle in the playoffs against taller opposition.
“Let’s face it. May talent ang Talk 'N Text, pero if you pit them against taller teams like San Miguel and Purefoods, dun lalabas ang kahinaan nila,” said Pumaren, who oversaw Taulava's resurgence at Air21 last season.
“Kaya on fantasy league’s perspective, if you put Taulava there (sa lineup), mas mapapagaan ang trabaho ng big men nila na mostly eh undersized. Kasi kung mapapansin mo yung big men nila, na-a-outmuscle ng talagang big guys. They just have athletic big guys,” he added.
Pumaren bared that Air21 would not have reached the playoffs of the last two conferences if not for the resilience, leadership and inside presence of Taulava.
“Magandang idea talaga yun kung mapupunta si Asi sa Talk 'N Text. Malaking bagay ang naibibigay ng big man eh,” he said. “With the trend right now, malaking factor ang may big guy eh. It will turn around a team’s campaign. Like what Asi did for Air 21 before.
“Surely, if Asi will be with Talk 'N Text, mapapadali ang mga games nila.”
The Quezon City councilor also stressed his belief that with Taulava back in the fold of the Manny V. Pangilinan group, it’s about time Taulava, Harvey Carey and Jimmy Alapag - the trio that brought Talk 'N Text the 2003 All Filipino Cup championship - will be reunited.
That should be a very good marketing for the team, he said.
“Im sure, everybody’s dreaming of that, atleast magkaroon sila ng last hurrah to play together as a team,” said the multi-titled UAAP coach. “Pwedeng mag grand slam ang team na yun.”
“Imagine mo, kung andun si Asi (sa Talk 'N Text) tapos ang four mo Ranidel o Jay Washington, ang lakas ng team na 'yun. Napakalakas ng team na yun. They’re going to be really steady,” said the owner of Gatorade Hoops Center in Mandaluyong.
Guiao however believes that a major stumbling block to the transfer of Taulava is his current team, NLEX Road Warriors.
“Ang hindi ko lang alam dyan, kung papayag ang NLEX at papaano nilang gagawin yung paikot ng trade na 'yun,” he said.
As it is, Talk 'N Text will only have until the end of the eliminations to pull off any trades. PBA media bureau chief Willie Marcial said the deadline for trades is set the day after the last game of the eliminations.
If and when the scheduled triple header on Tuesday at the Cuneta Astrodome is cancelled due to typhoon Ruby, teams can trade players until after its rescheduled date.
Here's a podcast of interviews with Yeng Guiao and Franz Pumaren: