SISTER teams Talk `N Text and Meralco dispute the solo lead in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The teams enter the match with similar 2-0 win-loss records and share the top spot with idle Barako Bull.
The 7 p.m. match marks only the second time this season Meralco coach Norman Black will be pitted against his former team.
Black understands the matchup problem the Bolts face against the core of Talk `N Text led by Gilas Pilipinas mainstays Ranidel de Ocampo, Jayson Castro, and Larry Fonacier, along with returning Best Import Richard Howell.
“It will be a huge test for us going up against Talk ‘N Text,” Black said.
“Not only do they have good perimeter players led by Jayson and Ranidel, but you add that to the inside game of Howell and it will be a tough task for us,” he added.
On the other hand, Meralco surprised everyone when it cut to size powerhouse Barangay Ginebra on opening day, 85-74, before using a giant second half run to turn back KIA Motors, 80-70.
The Bolts are the second-best defensive team so far early in the conference by holding their opponents to just 77 points.
But under coach Jong Uichico, the Tropang Texters have also been transformed into a defensive team, limiting the opposition to 82 points per contest.
Help is also on the way for Meralco with guards Jared Dillinger and Mike Cortez expected to play after missing the game against KIA Motors last week.
Energetic import Josh Davis’s mettle will be tested by Howell. The athletic Meralco import averaged 22 points and 21.5 points in his first two games in the PBA.
Howell, who had an anemic offensive night against Rain or Shine, exploded for 19 of his 29 points on Sunday to lead the fourth-quarter breakaway in Talk ‘N Text’s 10-point win against Blackwater.
The Tropang Texters opened the midseason tournament with an 89-86 escape act against the Elasto Painters.