MANILA, Philippines — Ato Agustin’s basic premise was right on the money: It is still a five-on-five game. Question is, who will the Petron Blaze coach be summoning from the bench after his starting lineup?
There lies the gross disparity in the balance of power between nuclear-armed Talk ‘N Text and the badly decimated team that will hobble into Game One of the PBA Governors Cup Finals at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum tonight to try and stop what seemingly is preordained: The Tropang Texters crowning themselves Grand Slam champions.
It’s Vic Morrow and Rick Jason facing a battalion of German Panzers. The Fellowship of the Ring minus Gandalf and Aragorn taking on Sauron’s Army.
Heck, Juan Manuel Marquez might even have a better shot at beating Manny Pacquiao in their coming fight!
But never tell Agustin the odds.
“Lima-lima pa rin naman yan e,” said the 1992 PBA Most Valuable Player, defiant but with a smile on his face, when someone pointed out last Friday that Petron has four key players – Jay Washington, Rabeh Al-Hussaini, Lordy Tugade and Joseph Yeo – out for the series with various injuries.
Up to a point – the first 12 minutes to be exact – Agustin may be right. Petron can start with Anthony Grundy, Danny Ildefonso, Sunday Salvacion, Nonoy Baclao, and Denok Miranda or Alex Cabagnot, if his previously swollen left shooting hand doesn’t act up.
But who comes in next for the Blaze Boosters once Talk ‘N Text kicks up its running game to ultra-high gear in the second quarter, when Jimmy Alapag, Jason Castro and Ryan Reyes start burning rubber, and Kelly Williams, Ali Peek, Harvey Carey, Jared Dillinger and Ranidel de Ocampo begin pounding the ball inside?
The Boosters may be answering the starting gun with a full tank, but they would be leaking fuel once the Texters run roughshod over them.
And Petron still has to deal with a deadly outside shooter named Scottie Reynolds, the TNT import and No. 2 all-time scorer at Villanova University.
So overall, unless Agustin can find a way to fill up the rebounding and 3-point shooting void left by Washington, substitute for the defensive absence of Al-Hussaini underneath, and produce in a hurry wingmen with the slashing ability of Tugade and Yeo, then the Texters should be able to put the opener away easy.
Still, stranger things have been known to happen, and Petron routing Talk ‘N Text, 98-83, two days ago in a game now dubbed “Texter’s Choice” is a phenomenon that could manifest itself again, though very unlikely in the same form of a rout.
The Boosters clinched the second finals berth on the strength of a higher quotient over Barangay Ginebra and Alaska after all three teams wrapped up the semifinals with 8-5 slates.
The Kings slammed the door on the Aces by beating Rain or Shine late Friday, 103-95, doing the team that eliminated them earlier – Petron (then known as San Miguel Beer) – huge favor.
It will be a rematch of this year’s Philippine Cup title showdown which the Texters won in six games.
GINEBRA 103 — Tubid 18, Wilson J. 16, Cortez 16, Menk 14, Caguioa 10, De Ocampo 9, Sloan 6, Wilson W. 6, Canaleta 4, Intal 2, Mamaril 2, Labagala 0, Aquino 0, Helterbrand 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 95 — Belga 20, Rodriguez 12, Buenafe 11, Cruz 10, Norwood 9, Chan 8, Arana 8, Vanlandingham 5, Ferriols 4, Jazul 3, Matias 3, Ibanes 2, Tang 0.
Quarters: 23-19, 46-42, 73-65, 103-95.
Sunday, August 07, 2011
TNT, Petron start title duel