EVEN with Talk 'N Text enjoying a huge advantage in talent and experience, slotman Ali Peek has cautioned his teammates against taking Air21 Express lightly when they clash on Thursday in the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Texters, who finished the eliminations with a league-best 12-2 record, clinched the top spot and a twice-to-beat advantage against Air21, which with a 5-9 record and did not clinch a place in the playoffs until Friday when Barako Bull dropped its game against San Mig Coffee.
Still, beating the Express is easier said than done, according to Peek.
“The team believes, and coach (Norman Black) the way he prepares for this (game), that Air21 is a much better team than their record. I believe they have a good combination of veterans and young players that are trying to prove something,” said the third pick overall of the 1998 rookie draft.
“They (Express) are dangerous. They have a pretty good coaching staff … I would imagine that we would prepare for them very well and come up with the right strategy,” he added.
The Tropang Texters, who are gunning for a third successive all-Filipino title, beat the Express in two meetings this conference – 96-89 and 100-94, but Peek correctly pointed out that both games were close and the victories didn’t come that easy.
That is why he wants the Texters to deal Air21 a swift blow and prevent the Express from gaining any momentum.
“To me it’s now zero-zero when we come to the playoffs. Anything can happen, we just don’t want to take them (Express) for granted” said the 14-year veteran, who is averaging 7.9 points and 6.07 rebounds in 21.21 minutes this conference.
Peek said it's important for Talk 'N Text to keep its focus in the playoffs.
"In between those successful titles, we’ve had our slides also by taking teams for granted, not fully appreciating what we have," he said. "For me, personally, I want to take advantage of every opportunity given me, we need to keep going for the championship."