TALK ‘N Text resumes its bid for a third straight PBA Philippine Cup championship as it goes up against dangerous Alaska Milk in Game One of their best-of-seven semifinals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Texters were the first to make it to the semifinals, but not after going through the wringer against a surprisingly tough Air21 Express, 105-100, during their quarterfinal match up last week.
Coach Norman Black said he has taken the time to address the weaknesses of his team following Talk ‘N Text’s narrow win against Air21.
“We need to raise our game to a different level as we play in the semifinals … Alaska is a very structured team,” said Black ahead of the 5:15 p.m. match against the Aces.
Black’s top deputy, Nash Racela said one of the weaknesses they identified was the turnover points they allowed every game. The Tropang Texters gave up 24 turnover points to the Express - or eight points above usual average this conference.
“Si coach Norman naman confident sa defense ng team, sa turnover points lang talaga, kasi ang dami naming gini-give up. And against Alaska, very aggressive ang team na iyan,” said Racela.
Racela said the Aces have tremendously improved under Alaska coach Luigi Trillo.
“Maganda ang adjustment na ginawa ni coach Luigi at ang bilis din ng turnaround nila. I think sa coach’s point of view, Alaska also plays high-percentage defense,” he added.
Trillo, meantime, is expecting a tight series against the Tropang Texters, whom they managed to beat, 94-92, during their lone encounter this conference.
While top rookie Calvin Abueva is expected to be the main focus of Talk ‘N Text’s defense, Trillo said he expects guys like Cyrus Baguio, Mac Baracael, Gabby Espinas and Dondon Hontiveros to work alongside starters Sonny Thoss and JV Casio both on offense and defense.
Abueva was the energizer bunny during the Aces’ 88-70 series-closing victory over Meralco in the quarterfinals, though Trillo singled out Baguio’s outstanding plays this conference as one of the main reasons on why Alaska is contending for the title.
“Can’t say enough about Cy. He’s been our barometer. He’s been so consistent this conference. Last conference, he led the league in turnovers but now he’s a steady force for us,” Trillo said of his prized gunner.
Baguio, the former University of Santo Tomas star, averaged 22 points, 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 steals in their quarterfinal series against the Bolts, whom they swept, 2-0.