PBA: Is there any way to root for Talk 'N Text?

With the PBA playoffs heating up, I got to thinking...

In sports, it's a fair bet that if you like a team's players and coaches, then you like that team. In the Philippine Basketball Association, the Talk 'N Text Tropang Texters have come up with a logic-bursting formula to make a team full of exciting and likable players utterly hate-worthy.

When I look at the TNT roster, I see nothing but guys whose games and often (to the extent that I know or have observed them) whose personalities I like. Harvey Carey has become perhaps the premiere hustleman of the PBA; his hardhat approach to the game has made him indispensable to the team and allowed him to keep his minutes despite TNT's constant influx of marquee talent. I dig Jason Castro's waterbug speed and they way he skitters around the court creating chaos and scoring opportunities. Mark Yee is another borderline lunatic who's a joy to watch. I knew Aaron Aban and JR QuiƱahan from their Alaska days, and even though they're buried in the TNT rotation, I still root for them. Ryan Reyes, when healthy, is in the discussion for being the best guard in the league, and beyond that he plays such a mature floor game; it's fun to see him take over a few possessions and control the flow of a game, often without looking for his own shot. Kelly Williams is one of the top talents in the country, a guy who has won an MVP and still not hit his ceiling as a player, one of the kindest guys around and someone whose courageous comeback from a serious blood disorder two years ago makes him one of the most likable players in the league. Even Mac Cardona, one of the PBA's great villains, has long been a guilty pleasure for me. Any guy who makes as many crazy shots as he does as consistently as he does is a winner for me. 

This conference, they're even parading Shawn Daniels, one of my longtime favorite imports. I saw Daniels match up against Kwan Johnson the first time I ever went to the Araneta Coliseum in 2005, and I remember my initial skepticism toward this roly-poly mass of an import melt into disbelief at the way he could control the game with his quick hands and long arms on defense, Kevin Love-esque outlet passes and assists to his teammates out of the post. Daniels towed Air21/Burger King to the semifinals in the 2006 and 2009 import conferences, turning the perennially undermanned squad that's known for selling players into legit contenders and falling just short of the finals. This year, he's finally on one of the PBA's elite squads, and he's doing the same thing he's always done -- filling in the gaps on defense and making life easy for his teammates on offense. 

I want the TNT players to win a championship. I SO want Shawn Daniels to win one. But I don't want any of them to win like this. Not as part of Talk 'N Text, which is like the PBA's answer to the Death Star. The squad was built to vanquish other teams, but it may end up destroying the PBA universe. That's clearly an exaggeration, but the same way NBA fans are turning against the Miami Heat now that they've tried to stack the deck with LeBron, Wade and Bosh, I can't bring myself to cheer for a PBA franchise that just throws enough money at guys to create a straight-up all-star team. We all thought that the PBA had its Yankees, and they were San Miguel, but this time around TNT has out-San-Migged the Cojuangco basketball empire. Who knew such a thing was possible?

Of course it's bad for the league. I'm enjoying the quarterfinal match-up between Alaska and Ginebra, but at the same time I'm wondering if it even matters. Will the winner stand much of a chance against the Death Star? Alaska seems likely to advance and they've got the benefit of a great import and coach Tim Cone, who's often at his best when forced to come up with solutions to impossible problems like "How to slow down TNT." Still, I think they'll get overwhelmed over the course of the series and never really give the Texters a scare.

And the regular season games involving teams like Santa Lucia and Coke and Air21 are becoming borderline unwatchable. I remember reading comments at FireQuinito, where readers were sarcastically suggesting that the PBA just become an MVP league (or MVP and San Miguel league, if SMC remains in the PBA for the long run), with six teams owned by Manny Pangilinan duking it out for the MVP cup. Well that hypothetical league, which was intended to be a joke, might actually be better than the PBA right now. If MVP owned all the teams, he'd have an incentive to spread out the talent. PBA fans would have balanced teams and games worth watching on a regular basis, instead of the current schedule that requires you to mark your calendar for a TNT versus B-Meg game or an Alaska-SMB match. 

I'm getting a little bit worried about the PBA. This conference, for the first time since I began following the league, I noticed myself tuning out when I watched games on my computer. That shouldn't happen, and the TNT-SMC axis is largely to blame for draining the PBA's talent pool and only putting a fraction of it to use. They're like Daniel Day Lewis at the end of There Will Be Blood: "I drink your milkshake!" San Miguel used to be the number one culprits. This conference, I think TNT has pulled ahead. 

So yeah, Talk 'N Text -- great players, great coaches, a lot of great people. Great team. I hope they lose. 

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I'd have to agree that TNT is

I'd have to agree that TNT is the "best team Manny can buy".

solomonteh

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TNT tried to pirate Jai Lewis from Rain or Shine

Believe it or not, Jai Lewis' agent contacted the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters' Management before the start of this Fiesta Cup to ask for Jai's release in order to play for 'another club.' Talk 'n Text was even willing to pay an enormous amount of cash in order to secure the former Elasto Painter Import for their chase for the championship. I wouldn't be surprised the slightest bit if he suits up for the Tropang Texters in tip-top condition the next import-laden conference.

Another chapter in the litany of abuses in this so-called PBA. Don't even get me started on the lousy officiating!

Money does make the world go round after all...

Yeah, I'll have to agree with

Yeah, I'll have to agree with coach chot on this one.

San Miguel and Ginebra both have much deeper line ups. Alaska and BMeg are at par with TNT. Rain Or Shine, Sta. Lucia and Coke have relatively equal line ups. Air 21/Red Bull has the worst. (their publicized economic woes explains this a lot)

Ginebra has far better talent but is in fact too heavy and cumbersome. It isn't hard to imagine that they will perform better if they lighten their load to give certain players more minutes, and get good role players rather than turn starters into back-ups (which doesn't always work)

In fact, TNT plays better because they have a better distribution of roles. Something Ginebra struggles with almost three sets of potential starters on each position.

San Miguel has an aging line up but a pretty talented one still. Penisi, Ildefonso, Seigle and Racela are way past their prime but would still start on some of the lesser teams. Pena isn't even getting the minutes he used to. And Joseph Yeo would be starting on most teams, or coming off the bench as their sixth man. Here, he's third on the rotation.

I would say BMeg and TNT arte at par. Maybe holding a slight, negligible edge over Alaska.

Nice!

Haha! Nice article, Rafe. I see your point and I agree. BUT, if you look at the TNT roster compared to San Miguel, Ginebra, & BMeg, you will find they are way deeper than us, man-for-man. Not counting imports, we have 8 'main' guys, w Mark Yee, JR Quinahan, Aaron Aban, and Charles Waters as our 9th-12th players, while the others have big names like Seigle, Pennisi, Yeo, Villanueva, Salvacion, Allado, Adducul in those spots:
TNT SMB GIN BMEG
Jimmy Cabagnot Helterbrand R. Yap
Jason Villanueva Cortez Simon
Ryan Miranda Miller Artadi
Mac Hontiveros Caguioa J. Yap
JD Santos Intal Canaleta
Harvey Ildefonso Hatfield Meierhofer
Ranidel Washington Yancy Raymundo
Kelly Pena Menk Reavis
Yee Seigle Villanueva Allado
Quinahan Pennisi Salvacion Adducul
Aban Yeo Wilson Timberlake
Waters Tugade*,Holper Cruz,Valenzuela* Salvador

Even Alaska is 10 deep -- LA, Cablay, Baguio, Fonacier, Dela Cruz, Hugnatan, Devance, Thoss, Samigue, Borboran/Cariaso

Nakakagulat lang yung line-up namin because we have Shawn now. But the fact is, considering we have no elite center, we are no that much deeper than the 4 other teams cited. Admittedly, what we do have is a cast of versatile players who can play multi-positions. Pero no way we 'out-talent' the San Mig teams.

So, if we do not have the monopoly of, as you say, 'great players, great coaches, great people,' would it be asking too much for you to hope they lose more? :)

@coachot

tama ka coach chot!

napakalalim ng san miguel bench,
SMB, GIN, DAL

mganda lang talaga ang halo ng players niyo coach!
Center na lang kulang.. so if Japeth arrives can you train him to be a C and bulk him up?

pero parang malabo ata. i draft nio na lang si Slaughter?lol

pero ang biggest factor kaya no.1 kayo sa standings at juggernaut team ang tingin sa inyo dahil sa team play at player rotation nio.

the other teams kasi malabo ang player rotations nila dahil sa sobra sa Guards at forwards.. saka you are the best coach in the PBA, no kidding at no bola.

the top coaches in the PBA from my point of view:

1)Coach Chot Reyes
2)Tim Cone
3)Jong Uichico

and then labo labo na pagkatapos ng top 3 na yan! haha

pakita ko lang ung rotation nio from my perspective

Jimmy - Jason/Waters
Cardona - Ryan/Aban/Waters
Williams - JD/Yee/Carey
Ranidel - Carey/Quinahan
Daniels - Quinahan/Ranidel

tama po ba? Center na lang talaga kulang.. pwede maging towel boy sa team niyo sir? haha.. I really want to have a job involving the PBA or better yet the NBA!
thanks po! sana reply kayo!

Nice Article Rafe!!

-Deerman / Angelito Valino

sorry but i beg to disagree..

coach chot being the best coach in the pba? hell no..

he was the coach of smb before and he had a healthy seigle, ildefonso, racela, lordy, enrico, fonacier, pena, adducul and tenorio.. what happened? after losing to bgk you left?

then he got the job as the coach of team pilipinas..

he had the luxury of rotating the best players in the league to no avail..

he's just lucky to have a bunch of great players and role players at tnt. that's why he's winning. well hopefully you beat alaska to face one of smb's teams.

good luck..

MALI PALA AKO.

SA SG PO PALA SI WATERS AT SA SF..HEHE SORRY PO..

^^

bmeg for me is still number 1.. their defense makes them great.. talk n' text is a scary team to play against.. but yeah you're right, having no legitimate center makes them vulnerable. bmeg also has a problem, r.yap is playing as a pg but i think, he's more of a sg. he is sometime being a "buwakaw", artadi deserves to play a litle bit longer but the main problem w/ him is his shooting... main point is, they need a pure and wise pg..

mm..

roger yap is a true SG and a converted PG, but he definitely is a legit and qualified PG. He is one of the factors why they won those championships. He stabilizes the court and sets the half court plays, he's a little bit slow but he gets the job done. paul artadi is a great player he does a good job pressuring the ball handler on the opposing side and running the fast breaks..

they are both great players and they have contributed big in their squad, that's why I dare not to ask about roger yap's game. its their character that builds them, they live and die in their character. in fact every team does.

*just want to point out the line-up of the Purefoods/BMEG squad in the past few years, imagine if these players were at the top of their game!

Jondan Salvador - Rafi Reavis/Enrico Villanueva
Kerby Raymundo - Jun Limpot/Rommel Adducul
Marc Pingris - Rico Maierhofer/Rey Evangelista/Alvin Patrimonio
James Yap - Noy Castillo/Peter June Simon/KG Canaleta
Roger Yap - Paul Artadi/Chris Timberlake

all I can say is wow. Purefoods dream team.

wty

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