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Worried TNT calls back Gilas stars

by Waylon Galvez

Coach Norman Black of Talk ’N Text appeared to have pressed the panic button after their loss to San Mig Coffee last week.

The team called back to action three of four players who saw action in the recent FIBA Asia Championship, cutting their vacation time which was supposed to be three TNT games.

The Texters will take on the Meralco Bolts at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in the first game of a twin bill set at 5:15 p.m. today. The second game will pit Barako Bull against Barangay Ginebra at 7:30 p.m.

Talk ‘N Text had played the first two games without the Gilas players but the loss against the Mixers, 118-99, drastically changed the equation as Jayson Castro, Ranidel de Ocampo and Larry Fonacier were called back to play.

The fourth TNT player in the national team which won silver in the FIBA event, Jimmy Alapag, will miss the action as he is still in the US having his vacation.

The conference being a short one, TNT is not taking any chances.

Fortunately, the players are happy to be back in the PBA, particularly Castro who was named member of the FIBA Asia Mythical Five selection.

“Of course, very excited to play again in the PBA,” said Castro. “Siyempre ibang challenge din ‘yung you’re playing for your mother team.”

“Pero ibang experience talaga for me, for us to represent the country in an international competition. Tapos dito pa ginawa and we’re fortunate to win a medal, which ‘yun naman ‘yung target natin kasi we want to earn a spot in the worlds,” added Castro.

With Castro, De Ocampo and Fonacier, TNT is expected to get its clout back. The team struggled in its first two games, barely beating Barako Bull which needed overtime, 118-113, and then suffered a big loss to San Mig Coffee in their next game.

“Now the goal is to try and improve our game and get some wins. Like everyone else, the goal is to aim for the playoff advantage by finishing in the top half of the standings,” Black added.
Black is referring to the tournament format, which will have the top eight teams advancing to the quarterfinal round with the top four earning twice-to-beat incentives versus the bottom half in the crossover playoffs.