BANGED up all conference long, Talk ‘N Text big man Ali Peek summoned whatever strength was left in his 37-year-old body just to ensure this championship of a lifetime.
The 6-foot-4 Peek dropped 15 points on a near-perfect 7-of-8 shooting, grabbed six rebounds, and had one shot block in 23 minutes as he helped the Tropang Texters waylay Rain or Shine in Game Four, 105-82, for a sweep of the Philippine Cup Finals and a third successive all-Filipino championship.
Peek said he himself was surprised to be named Best Player of the Game, but admitted he was simply on a zone during that stretch when the defending champions went on a tear to finally take the fight out of the Elasto Painters.
“I don’t know why it (Best Player of the Game) happened. But it’s kind of like a switch that comes on,” said Peek, his shirt drenched with water as he emerged from the festive Talk `N Text dugout while the championship celebration was going on.
“I was just there with a mindset of just sticking to the defensive game plan. A few shots fell and it fell for me, so I just kept rolling,” added the St. Mary’s College of California alumnus.
Prior to the start of the title series, Peek was already complaining of an aching knee, coming off a grueling six-game series against the young Alaska Aces in the semifinals.
But through constant therapy and conditioning, Peek said the pain subsided somewhat, allowing him to play his usual game the entire Finals.
“When you come deep into the playoffs, from the offensive standpoint, I do know what my role is. You know that in our team, the attack can come from anybody,” he said.
Peek admitted getting a bit nervous when the Elasto Painters cut down what was once an imposing 16-point Talk `N Text lead to just two points (63-65) late in the third period of Game Four.
“I personally don’t wanna go to a Game Five because I’m worn out, but we gotta compete because they are still alive when they came within I think two or three points,” he recalled.
“But Rain or Shine, they just played one hell of a series. They fought, they fought, and they fought till they couldn’t fight anymore,” explained the man-mountain, who was picked third overall during the 1998 draft.
Now that the Tropang Texters are part of league history as the first team to win the all-Filipino title three straight times since the legendary Crispa Redmanizers in the eighties, Peek said it’s time to relax a little bit, get his knee rested, before preparing again for the Commissioner’s Cup, where he’s expected to bang bodies again with bigger, taller imports.
“Well, I’ll just take a long break. Probably I’ll go some place where nobody knows me just to go and relax,” said the Talk ‘N Text gentle giant before making his way out of the Big Dome.