NORMAN Black admits winning a fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup title got a lot even tougher as Talk `N Text drew a resurgent San Mig Super Coffee for its best-of-three quarterfinals match up.
The series starts Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena and although Black remains confident of the Tropang Texters’ title chances, meeting a powerhouse squad in the Mixers right in the first round of the playoffs isn’t the most ideal setup.
Now the multi-titled coach will have to find ways to counter the Mixers’ speed, something San Mig Coffee playmaker Mark Barroca has consistently provided this season.
The 5-foot-10 Barroca showed why he’s been considered one of the pro league’s fast-rising guards after scoring 12 of his 16 points in the fourth quarter to power San Mig to a 100-87 victory over Talk `N Text in their elimination-round encounter last week.
“Their (Mixers) guards are playing a lot better now with Barroca, (PJ) Simon, and (James) Yap. They beat us pretty good so it’s gonna be a tough quarterfinals match up for us,” Black said, heading to the Tropang Texters’ 8 p.m. showdown against the Mixers.
Talk ’N Text lost three straight, including the one against San Mig, before finally closing out the eliminations with a 103-79 drubbing of top-seeded Barangay Ginebra in a no-bearing contest on Sunday.
The Tropang Texters finished the elims with an 8-6 win-loss record and clinched the no. 4 seed in the playoffs.
San Mig wound up at fifth with an even 7-7 record after winning its last four outings, its confidence at a high entering the playoffs.
But on Monday the Tropang Texters got an added boost to their title campaign after acquiring Nino Canaleta in a deal with Air21.
At the same time, Black is also hopeful the return of injured key players Kelly Williams, Ryan Reyes, and Noy Baclao could add some depth for the Tropang Texters in their race-to-two duel against the Mixers.
“They are big and long and athletic, but the only good thing is hopefully I’ll be able to get my rotation players back on Tuesday. That should help us as far as our depth is concerned,” said the multi-titled coach.
“But it will be a tough match up.”
For San Mig counterpart Tim Cone, he feels that getting solid contributions from his big men, particularly Yancy de Ocampo and Rafi Reavis could give them a bigger chance of beating the defending champion in the short series.
“If Yancy and Rafi are playing so well, that makes the game a lot easier for us as a team,” noted Cone, whose team managed to overcome a 1-5 start this conference and make the playoffs.
“If you have that big guy in the middle dominating the boards, it really, really makes the difference. I really feel our barometer is not James, Joe (Devance), Ping (Marc Pingris), or PJ (Simon), but it’s really Yancy and Rafi,” he added.
“If those guys play at a high level, we’ll have a good shot at making some noise in the playoffs.”
The 6-foot-9 de Ocampo, the league’s top rookie pick in the 2002 Draft, has been averaging 6.7 points and 8.2 rebounds in the team’s four-game winning run.
On the other hand, Reavis is averaging 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds in the Mixers’ last four games.