Tuesday, 10 May 2011

A title away ; TNT - journal

Posted by chardyboy on Tuesday, May 10, 2011 0 comments

source: TWO down, one to go. The 2010-11 season may just be an all-Talk ‘N Text show.

It’s been 15 years since a franchise accomplished the greatest team achievement in the PBA – the Grand Slam. And shortly after winning the Commissioner’s Cup Sunday night at the jampacked Araneta Coliseum, head coach Chot Reyes couldn’t hide his desire to capture one of the league’s rarest feats.
“Two down! Two down! Let’s get another one,” said Reyes at mid-court during the trophy presentation.

That objective, no matter how difficult it may seem, will depend largely on how Talk ‘N Text will react the moment Jimmy Alapag, the PBA Press Corps’ co-Finals MVP along with Jason Castro, and Kelly Williams abandon the ball club to suit up for Smart-Gilas as it prepares for the FIBA-Asia Championships in China in September.

It will also depend on how good Talk ‘N Text’s import would be in the season-ending Governors’ Cup where the Texters will only be allowed to field a 6-foot-2 reinforcement, the handicap they will have to follow for finishing No. 1 for the season’s first two conferences.

Still, Reyes feels excited about the mission at hand.

“Now that we’ve won the second conference, there’s only once jewel missing in the Triple Crown,” Reyes said. “Of course, we’ll go for that. It will be very difficult, but as what we’ve proven in this game, you cannot under-estimate the heart of this team. We’ll figure out how to make another championship run and, who knows?”

Alaska was the last franchise that captured a Grand Slam in 1996. Before the Aces, San Miguel Beer did it in 1989 six years after the fabled ball club Crispa recorded its second three-peat under Tommy Manotoc. Virgilio ‘Baby’ Dalupan was the first head coach to chronicle a Grand Slam in 1976 with the Redmanizers.

Without any doubt, the Texters still hunger for championships. The Commissioner’s Cup may have been the team’s first title in a tournament with imports, but they now see an opportunity to be regarded as one of the greatest franchises of all time if ever they do make it big once again in the Governors’ Cup that kicks off on June 2.

As players and team officials flashed the No. 1 sign while champagne poured all over the dugout after Talk ‘N Text’s gripping 99-96 overtime victory over Ginebra in Game Six, Ali Peek described it best what it took for them to end up at the top.

“In order to be No. 1, you have to go through them (Ginebra Kings),” said Peek.
“Thank you Ginebra for giving us a tough fight,” Ricky Vargas, Talk ‘N Text’s representative to the Board, said.

Looking back, the championship series against Ginebra might have taught Talk ‘N Text a lot. Likewise, the best-of-seven showdown hardened the Texters’ character.

Talk ‘N Text was nine minutes away from being dragged to a pressure-filled Game 7, falling behind by as many as 81-66. Yet what looked like an imposing deficit only sparked the fighting spirit within the Texters, and the franchise that has not lost back-to-back games throughout the conference whirled back into contention by sending the game into extra time.

When Rob Labagala missed a point-blank shot in the waning seconds of regulation, Talk ‘N Text did not let the opportunity slip away.

Alapag, Castro, and Ranidel de Ocampo each knocked in three-point shots in extra time, and the man they also call the ‘Mighty Mouse’ added two free throws before the Kings blew their chances to send the match into a second extra period when Willie Miller committed a passing error intended for John Wilson as time expired.

Paul Harris, who will be credited as the first import to lead the Texters to a championship, picked up the ball and scooted downcourt, his one arm clutching the leather and the other raised in triumph as Talk ‘N Text recorded one of the most intense and thrilling climaxes in a title-clinching game in years.

But in the end, it was all about how Alapag and Castro carried the ball club when the chips were down.

“What a luxury to have two point guards who genuinely like playing together and can play well together,” said Reyes of Alapag and Castro. “That’s one of the secrets to our success.”

In winning the title, Talk ‘N Text can now forget the demons of the past. Before these championships, the Texters have not won any series against Ginebra, losing the 2004-05 Philippine Cup Finals, 4-1, and the 2009-10 best-of-five quarter-finals series after leading 2-0 and marred by a walkout in Game 4.

It was also the first time that Reyes won back-to-back championships, even though the triumph was his seventh personally while giving Talk ‘N Text its fourth crown. Reyes also is one title away from tying the man he defeated in the series, Jong Uichico, at third spot for coaches with most titles won behind Dalupan (15), and Tim Cone (13).

The Texters’ three previous titles all came in the Philippine Cups in 2003, 2007-08 and 2010-11 seasons.


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