By WAYLON GALVEZ
Games Today (Smart Araneta)
3:30 p.m. – Globalport vs Air21
5:45 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs Petron
Manila, Philippines – Following a rousing win to start its bid for a fourth straight all-Filipino crown, Talk N’ Text faces an early test today when it battles preseason favorite Petron Blaze today in the 2014 PLDT MyDSL PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A tight contest is expected between the Tropang Texters and the Boosters in their 5:45 p.m. showdown with the winner gaining the early lead in the season-opening conference.
To show its readiness to defend its crown, TNT edged Meralco, 89-80, last Sunday in Cebu City while Petron trounced Globalport, 97-87, last Wednesday.
Globalport and Air21, which also dropped its season-opener to Barako Bull (88-75), meet in the first game at 3:30 p.m. as the two squads try to rebound from their stinging losses.
In TNT’s triumph opposite Meralco, coach Norman Black missed the services of Ranidel de Ocampo (right calf), but the team had a balanced attack as Jayson Castro led the way with 20 points, eight boards and five assists.
Veteran forward Kelly Williams contributed 10 points in his first comeback game after missing the latter part of the Commissioner’s Cup and the entire Governors’ Cup to deal with his recurring blood disorder in the US.
New recruit Noy Baclao had 12 and eight boards while rookie Eliud Poligrates finished with 15 points off the bench.
Black said the 6-foot-5 de Ocampo will continue to miss the game, but he’s confident he has enough firepower in his arsenal to neutralize Petron’s own firepower.
The multi-titled coach is actually more concerned about the team defense as they have to deal with the 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo.
“Our goal is to continue to get off to a good start to avoid playing catch up later in the conference,” Black said.
“Both teams will be undermanned so the reserves will have to step up. Ranidel is still out and Ryan (Reyes) is day to day. Our game focus will be on trying to slow down June Mar,” said Black, adding that they also have to limit the productions of reigning MVP Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and Chris Lutz.
Lutz and Lassiter showed their scoring prowess by banging in 18 points apiece.
Petron beat Globalport despite not having Alex Cabagnot (foot) and Ronald Tubid (knee). They will continue to sit out and will be joined in the injury list by Yousef Taha, who hurt his right knee against the Batang Pier.
The 6-foot-6 Taha had six points in six minutes in his Petron debut after he was traded by Globalport during the off-season, but had to leave the game when he sustained the injury. He is ruled as day-to-day after a MCL sprain was ruled out following an MRI test.
“Alam naman natin na isa sa mabigat kalaban ang Talk ’N Text,” said Santos, who collected 16 points with seven rebounds in Petron’s opening game win. “Maganda ‘yung linaro namin against Globalport, kung ganun ang ila-laro namin, medyo maganda and chance naming manalo. Kung may adjustment man konti lang siguro.”