by Waylon Galvez
Game Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
8 p.m. – Air21 vs Talk ’N Text
Manila, Philippines – Talk ‘N Text shoots for its third straight victory since the arrival of import Rodney Carney when it battles Air21 in today’s lone game of the PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors’ Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Carney, who replaced NBA veteran Othyus Jeffers, has helped the Tropang Texters to two consecutive wins which he and the rest of the team hope to extend when they face the Express at 8 p.m.
A former NBA journeyman, Carney proved to be a blessing in disguise for TNT after Jeffers was barred by the FIBA and NBA to play in the league since he is still under contract with the Minnesota Timberwolves until June 30.
“I’m getting used to the style of play here, my teammates, the system. It’s good so far,” said Carney, who was picked by the Chicago Bulls in the 2006 Rookie Draft and played for four different teams.
Carney is averaging 20.5 points and 4.5 rebounds after TNT defeated Rain or Shine (83-81) and San Miguel Beer (103-97).
Against the Beermen, Carney finished with 28 points and got big help from Jayson Castro, who scattered 21 points, and Jimmy Alapag, who added 18 markers, including 12 in the last period.
The Tropang Texters shot 14-of-33 triples, with Alapag converting five.
TNT will face an Air21 side that is also on a hot streak. The two teams are also tied at 3-1.
The winner of today’s game could jump into a share for first place if defending champion San Mig Super Coffee beats rival Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in their game being played at presstime.
Ginebra won its first three games of the season-ending conference while San Mig is at 3-1 entering yesterday’s marquee duel.
Air21 is coming off a 91-88 victory over Alaska last Friday, and Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black has cautioned his team to play relentless against “a very dangerous team”.
“Air21 has been playing well so it will be a difficult,” said Black. “It’s a big game for both teams as it will keep the winner within the top four spots.”
Black said they have to be a little precise in their offense, especially that Carney is still learning the system. But far more importantly, TNT needs to limit the production of Air21 import Dominique Sutton and 41-year-old veteran Asi Taulava.
“We have to try and slow down the ageless Asi Taulava and their import Sutton,” Black said, adding that their defense will also focus on Air21’s scorers Joseph Yeo and Mac Cardona.
Sutton is averaging 23.3 points and 13.8 rebounds per game, while Taulava is backing him up with 16.3 points with 13.3 boards. Yeo has 14 points a game while Cardona has 11.8.
“TNT is playing well in the last two games,” said Air21 coach Franz Pumaren. “We need to find ways to slow them down and limit the production of their import, who played well versus SMB.”