EVEN with a team oozing with talent and championship experience, Talk ‘N Text coach Nash Racela said he is still wary of newcomer Globalport, which the Tropang Texters will meet on Friday night at the resumption of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Texters, who had to go through some anxious moments before pulling off a 112-110 overtime win over the Meralco Bolts last week, tangle with the Batang Pier in the 5:15 p.m. curtain raiser.
Racela is expected to call the shots for Talk ‘N Text anew, just like what he did in the team’s first game of the season, though he said head coach Norman Black might show up in case the Ateneo Blue Eagles wrap up the UAAP championship on Thursday night.
But with or without Black on the bench, Racela said he is prepared to wage war against the Batang Pier, a team which he has a good mix of veteran and emerging talent.
“Globalport is a dangerous team even if it lost its first two games. They have a good combination of veterans and young players. They can be dangerous when they get their rhythm,” Racela told Spin.ph.
Globalport dropped its season-opener against crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 90-110 before losing to Air21 in a close contest, 81-88 last October 7.
“Based on the two games they (Batang Pier) played, nakabantay kami sa kanila. Lalo na kay Gary David. We know he struggled during his first two games, but knowing Gary, hindi nagpapatalo iyan. Si Willie (Miller) naman has been very consistent,” said Racela.
Talk 'N Text might miss Fil-Am scoring and defensive ace Jared Dillinger, who Racela said skipped the team’s past practice to rest his left shoulder, which he hurt late in the first half of the TNT-Meralco game.
The good news for the Tropang Texters is 2010-2011 season MVP Jimmy Alapag will be suiting up for them against Batang Pier. Alapag missed Talk ‘N Text’s season debut to rest his left calf, which he strained during the team’s pocket tournament in Cebu held on September 21-23.
“So far, in the last two days of practice, Jimmy is doing fine. But we’ll break him in slowly. Still, we’ll be playing to our strength,” explained the 41-year-old younger brother of Petron rookie coach Olsen.
Globalport, on the other hand, has been practicing hard the past week, focusing more on team defense, while still trying to figure out how David and two-time MVP Miller can blend better.
“Natutuwa na kami sa laro namin against Air21, pero siyempre, ang wino-work out natin is paano ma-set up ng maayos si Gary sa opensa. Di ko pa alam ano ang best way para ma-involve si Gary,” noted Miller, who is averaging 24 points, five rebounds, four assists and three turnovers in his first two games with Batang Pier.
Meantime, Globalport team manager BJ Manalo reiterated that 6’7” big man Rabeh Al-Hussaini is an important ingredient to the team’s ongoing Philippine Cup campaign.
The mercurial Al-Hussaini, benched in the game against the Express, is expected to play against Talk ‘N Text.
In the 7:30 p.m. main attraction, Governors Cup champion Rain or Shine (1-1) tries to regain its bearing when it locks horns with Air21 (1-1).
Both squads are coming off contrasting performances. The Elasto Painters dropped a heart-stopping 94-98 loss to the Gin Kings on Sunday while the Express snapped their long 15-game losing streak in the Philippine Cup dating back to last season, with a morale-boosting 88-81 win against the Batang Pier.