NEWLY-crowned Commissioner’s Cup champion Talk ‘N Text won’t have stars Ranidel de Ocampo and Jayson Castro when the Tropang Texters begin their quest for back-to-back championships against a depleted Barangay Ginebra squad in the PBA Governors Cup on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
De Ocampo, adjudged the PBA Press Corps. Finals MVP in the mid-season conference, is out due to a swollen right knee, while Castro, the Best Player of the Conference, was given some time to rest after the physical championship series against Rain or Shine.
“Namaga kasi yung kanang tuhod ni Ranidel so ayaw naman naming ipilit, tapos si Jayson naman, we’ll just rest him for a few days dahil alam niyo naman yung nilaro niya nung semis saka Finals,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Jong Uichico, who won his ninth PBA title as a coach just last week.
Game time is at 5:15 p.m.
Also nursing injuries are defensive ace Aaron Aban (shoulder) and rookie guard Kevin Alas (left foot).
Uichico expects imports Stephfon Pettigrew and Jordanian Sam Daghlas to play extended minutes, while seldom-used playmaker Rob Labagala will also play key minutes while their injured players recover.
“Nangangapa din kami kasi five days lang naman kami nag-practice so we had to cram everything,” said Uichico, whose team had no time to celebrate the title win as they prepared for the Governors’ Cup.
Talk ‘N Text will actually be a facing a Ginebra squad, that is also dealing with its own injury issues due to the absence of ‘Twin Towers’ Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar as well as high-flying wingman Chris Ellis.
Slaughter sprained his right ankle just last Wednesday in practice, while Aguilar is still nursing a right hamstring injury he sustained also in practice last month.
Ellis underwent surgery on his right ankle and will be out for the rest of the season.
With a depleted frontcourt, Ginebra is expected to push the tempo of the game again with import Orlando Johnson, new boy Solomon Mercado and LA Tenorio leading the way.
The 6-foot-3 Johnson scored 50 points in Ginebra’s 108-99 loss to Alaska on Friday in Frankie Lim’s coaching debut with the Kings.
Mercado, acquired in a trade from Barako Bull just last Monday, had eight points and eight assists.
Lim is challenging his remaining big men led by Dorian Pena, Dave Marcelo and Rodney Brondial to step up in the absence of Slaughter and Aguilar.
“I have to live with that (depleted front court), but the playing time is theirs (Pena and Co.) and I think it’s about time for them to shine,” said Lim.
“If I were in their shoes, I will take this opportunity. Wala si Greg at wala si Japeth, nasa kanila na lahat.”