WHETHER Tropang TNT coach Jong Uichico’s sacrifice of putting club over country was worth it or not is set to be known as the Texters start their bid to reclaim lost glory, taking on Rain or Shine in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Uichico was forced to focus on his underperforming mother team rather than join Gilas Pilipinas in its European training camp last month as one of coach Tab Baldwin’s deputies.
Now, everyone gets to see how far the Texters, the MVP group’s flagship franchise that has failed to get past the quarterfinals in the first two conferences of the season, have come in the 7 p.m. matchup against the E-Painters, the reigning Commissioner’s Cup champions.
Uichico expects national team mainstays Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo as well Gilas rookie Troy Rosario to hit the ground running this time after just a few days of rest following the Olympic Qualifiers.
“Dapat kaagad (na gamitin) kasi it’s been happening to us all the time, (pero) sa akin naman bumabagsak yung sisi, ‘di ba?” the veteran coach lamented. “It’s been happening to us all the time: after Gilas, they rest while we’re losing games.”
“Pero ganun talaga, Gilas eh,” he was quick to add. “That’s why I decided to stay na lang, kasi naiiwan yung Talk ‘N Text eh.”
The Texters, though, are still missing a few key players in Matt Rosser, who is recovering from an operation to remove bone spurs on his right ankle and left big toe, an injury which ruled him out of the national pool. Kelly Williams is also out for at least two more weeks as he recovers from an MCL (medial collateral ligament) sprain on his left knee.
The Texters, led by imports Mario Little and Mike Madanly, face an intact E-Painters side bannered by Gilas standouts Gabe Norwood and Jeff Chan as well as Paul Lee, a local core that will support returning import Dior Lowhorn.
Mahindra seeks to ride the momentum of its opening-day 108-103 overtime win over Star as it takes the court in the curtain-raiser at 4:15 p.m. versus GlobalPort, which is eager to bounce back from a 93-81 loss to Ginebra last Saturday.