TALK `N Text is aware it is in for a rough time as it seeks a fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup championship.
Team captain Jimmy Alapag pointed to the rebuilding made by the rest of the field as one of the primary reasons why the reigning champions are now labeled as just "one of the teams."
“Almost every team underwent a buildup, even those that are already tough have even toughened up. But we’ll be ready,” said Alapag, stressing team chemistry will be still be a crucial factor in the All-Filipino tournament.
Although known as one of the teams with dominant frontlines, the Tropang Texters are now dwarfed by other squads such as Barangay Ginebra San Mig Coffee, Petron, and Alaska.
Except for 6-foot-7 rookie JP Erram, coach Norman Black will again rely on veteran big men Ranidel De Ocampo, Ali Peek, and newly acquired power forward Rob Reyes to man the middle for the team.
Yet amidst the threat from a slew of young big men, Peek still believes his durability and long years of experience remain a factor for him.
“To be honest with you, I am looking forward to it (banging bodies with the newbies). This is my 16th season in the league, and I’ve faced so many different types of competitions,” Peek said.
“They said that this batch (of rookies) is pretty strong. I am looking forward to the challenge, I want to see how I do against these young guys. And I’m sure they feel the same way,” added the gym-rat center.
De Ocampo said it’s a given Talk n’ Text is not among the biggest teams this season, but the Texters would rather play with a bigger heart.
“Hindi kami ang favorite ngayon. Yun nga ang gusto namin, `yung hindi kami na-me-mention (among) sa mga tough teams,” said the Gilas Pilipinas mainstay.
“Pero ito ang pinakamahirap na pagdadaanan namin sa All Filipino. Mas mabigat ito ng title defense namin at three peat ng all Pinoy,” he added.
For Talk `N Text combo guards Jayson Castro and Ryan Reyes, everything depends on preparation and how each team responds to the challenge of every game.
“Yung experience siguro namin sa all-Filipino ang edge namin sa iba. Plus `yung naging maayos na training camp namin sa Las Vegas, malaking bagay `yun kasi nakilala namin mga bago naming teammates,” Castro said. “Wala kaming bigs ngayon pero andun pa rin naman syempre yung quickness namin.”
“Basically a lot of teams got bigger players and good players, most of them beefed up really well with some stars and all stars in their team. That’s a challenge for us, but we’re willing to take that,” Reyes said.