THERE’S no reason for undefeated Talk `N Text to slow down even against Meralco as the sister teams clash on Friday in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Astrodome.
The Tropang Texters will put their 4-0 record on the line going into the 5:45 p.m. encounter as the team is currently on a roll in the mid-season conference behind the stellar plays of import Richard Howell and locals Jason Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo, and Jimmy Alapag.
The team went through the eye of the needle in its last outing on Sunday when it pulled off a hard-earned 101-96 win over Barako Bull.
“Against Meralco, the goal is to continue to play solid basketball on both offense and defense. Concerns would be on how to contain Brian Butch and also defend their three-point shooting,” said coach Norman Black.
All eyes will be on Howell’s showdown against the hot-shooting Butch, who has been carrying Meralco on his shoulder behind his all-around game, allowing the Bolts to open the conference with a 2-1 (win-loss) slate.
The 6-foot-10 Butch is averaging 32.6 points - second best in the league - along with 20.6 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.0 blocks. He is coming off a 42-point, 24-rebound stint in Meralco’s 104-99 win over Globalport last week.
Howell, on the other hand, is also posting solid numbers of 26.2 points, 20.5 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 2.2 steals in Talk `N Text’s first four games.
Butch’s ability to shoot from long range is expected to force Howell, a 6-foot-8 banger and low-post operator, to extend his defense from the outside.
Meralco coach Ryan Gregorio said the Bolts will have to do a better defensive effort against Talk ‘N Text, which is averaging eight three-point conversions this conference.
“They (Tropang Texters) are hot. They have been playing well on both ends of the floor so it is critical for us to disrupt their rhythm offensively,” said Gregorio.
“We must be able to handle Jason and Jimmy. They have been doing a tremendous job controlling the tempo so the best way to stop them is to focus on defense,” he added.
A victory puts Meralco into a tie for third place with idle San Miguel Beer (3-1) in the standings.