TALK ‘N Text will be banking on its conference-long consistencies on rebounding and three-point shooting when the Tropang Texters resume their quest for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup title in Game One of the finals against San Mig Super Coffee on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The highly-anticipated championship meeting between two of the league’s most successful teams begin at 8 p.m., with Talk ‘N Text looking to extend its conference-best 13-0 record against a defense-oriented San Mig squad.
With Best Import candidate Richard Howell fitting perfectly for Talk ‘N Text, the Texters average a league-best 51.9 rebounds per game this conference as opposed to San Mig’s 47.5 boards.
Howell, a product of North Carolina State, averaged 21.4 points and 19.3 rebounds though San Mig import James Mays isn’t that far with his 20.8 points and 17.4 rebounds norm.
“They (Mixers) are a very good offensive rebounding team, but we’re one of the best defensive rebounding teams. So something’s gonna happen there,” noted Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black.
Black said they will also try to exploit their red-hot three-point shooting in the best-of-five Finals series, as his team averaged close to 11 treys per game this conference.
Talk ‘N Text has a number of outside shooters led by Best Player of the Conference top two candidates Jason Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo.
Old reliables Jimmy Alapag, Larry Fonacier, Ryan Reyes and Nino Canaleta are also there to provide more firepower from the outside, anytime Howell gets trapped in the low block.
Meantime, San Mig coach Tim Cone, the league’s all-time winning coach, is now gunning for his 17th PBA championship.
But he recognizes the degree of difficulty, considering that the Tropang Texters are playing their best basketball this conference.
“At 13-0, usually you say, 'Wow, that team looks unbeatable.' But you look at this (Talk ‘N Text) team now, they are unbeatable,” Cone said.
“They have great momentum so we need to figure out a way to make them uncomfortable.”
Cone added that what keeps them from worrying about Talk ‘N Text’s solid performance this conference is the fact that their elimination round and playoff records won’t mean anything at this point.
“Despite the past records though, the record (entering the Finals) is zero zero. It’s a playoff, it’s not that they are 13-0 and we’re 9-8 (after the semifinals). We’re just fortunate to play them, we’ll see what we can do, that’s our battle cry,” he added.