Country comes first
By Brian Yalung
It seems like only a month ago that we were praising the Gilas Pilipinas squad for their monumental feat, that of which was bring the Philippines back in the map as far as basketball is concerned.
Majority of the players that played under coach Vincent “Chot” Reyes and company came from PBA ballclub Talk ‘n Text. These were skipper Jimmy Alapag, Ranidel De Ocampo, Larry Fonacier and Jason Castro.
Most of these players were unable to spring back to action, obviously exhausted from the grueling tournament which ran for 11 days straight. And of course, these players had their share of injuries that had to be mended which in all took its toll not only on them but on the TnT squad as well.
And the Tropang Texters are showing the ill-effects of the FIBA-Asia tournament, costly if you may when you talk about their current performance in the ongoing PBA Governors Cup where TnT is practically trying desperately to stay alive as the tourney reaches its crucial stages.
As of this writing, TnT totes a 2-5 card and are set to face off against the defending champions, the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters. Their last assignment will be equally tough as well as they play their final assignment against the rising Barangay Ginebra five.
All that aside, TnT still has a shot at the 8th spot if they defeat both squads. However all that would be easier said than done as almost all teams except for Petron, are vying for better positioning as the PBA eliminations nears the windup stages.
Tony Mitchell, the scoring demon that made waves last conference, was unable to negate the absence of TnT’s stars. His lack of defense was said to be an issue, eventually forcing TnT to change imports at this crucial stage.
Mitchell was replaced by Courtney Fells, said to be a tough defender and former player of North Carolina State. Fells, assuming he passes the height limit, will be playing against the Elasto Painters.
But isn’t the import change quite risky at this point of the PBA Governors Cup eliminations?
“We are all aware of the risk. And of course, there is no guarantee it will make all things better”, said assistant coach Nash Racela when asked about TnT’s predicament.
“But its good that from out end, we are still doing something to try and change out situation”, he added.
Thus, letting their players join the Gilas Pilipinas squad and the unfortunate pick of import have become costly for the powerhouse team that has been always known to figure in the toughest of battles and at least be in the final round of four. Were there any regrets on their end?
“No regrets because from the beginning, it was clear we were doing it for the country. Any consequence of that is something we were ready to accept. Of course, we are still hoping that we could still recover this conference” said coach Nash in parting.