The secret to Talk ‘N Text’s success: defense, defense, defense
MANILA, Philippines - After abolishing the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters last night and sweeping their PBA Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup semifinals series, the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters now find themselves three wins away from another PBA title. Furthermore, they enter the finals being the first squad in 34 years to do so with an unbeaten record.
No doubt, the Tropang Texters have produced one of the simplest yet effective offensive systems in the league, as previously explained by Rappler, which has helped them reign supreme over their contemporaries. Besides having weapons from every position on the floor that can knock down three-point shots, the Norman Black-coached squad pride themselves on some of the most important fundamentals in the game of basketball: ball-movement, unselfishness, off-ball cuts, route-running, and most of all, the willingness to make the extra pass, which enables the team to get a great attempt rather than settling for just a good one – an aspect that would make the great Phil Jackson and his assistant Tex Winter beam with joy.
The results have been stupendous: TNT is 13-0 this conference, and although the Elasto Painters were at a disadvantage due to various injuries to its players, their adversaries looked absolutely dominant all throughout the entire semifinal round, and never seemed to cease control, which comes as no surprise to many pundits.
“This team is a group of players that doesn’t care about stats,” says gunslinger Larry Fonacier, who registered 10 points in 30 minutes in last night’s win.
With that said, TNT’s main goal during games isn’t to strike the opposition with their flawless offensive execution, but rather to suffocate them with their impeccable defense. It’s an objective that their head coach has made clear since Day 1 of the Commissioner’s Cup. And it’s a belief that has spearheaded the Texters to a flawless standing.
“Siguro yung defense namin,” (I guess it’s our defense) says Tropang Texters spitfire guard Jayson Castro, when inquired on how his club has managed to keep an immaculate record over the past few weeks.
“Kasi, first game palang namin this season, yun yung number one main goal namin – ma stop yung kalaban.” (From the first game of the conference, that was already our goal – to shut down the opposition)
Fonacier, whose team allowed the Elasto Painters an average of only 87.67 PPG in the semis, shares the same sentiment on how TNT has looked so dominant: “[It’s] what we’ve been doing all conference: defense is a calling card of Coach Norman, so we just follow his lead.”
True to their pre-conference mission of shutting down the offensive attacks of other PBA teams, the Tropang Texters have yet to allow an opponent to put up 100 or more points on the scoreboard since the inception of their winning streak, adhering to the old cliché, “defense wins championships.”
Black, a multiple-time champion coach in both the pro and amateur levels, has established a dynamic where disallowing opponents from scoring at a high amount is top priority. It has made Talk ‘N Text the best club in the PBA today, and it has given the team the confidence of knowing that they can compete – and beat – any counterpart in the league.
As a matter of fact, Fonacier and Castro both don’t have a preference on which squad they’d rather face in the finals between the Air21 Express and San Mig Coffee Mixers.
“Both of them are,” answered Fonacier when asked whom he feels is a bigger threat to TNT. “We see the way they play; they both deserve to be in the finals.”
Castro’s opinion, meanwhile, doesn’t differ much from his comrade’s: “Kahit sino naman siguro kasi mahirap rin. Kung sino yung manalo sakanila, siguro papaghandaan nalang namin, parang yung Rain or Shine.”
(I guess it can be whoever because it’s still going to be hard. Whoever wins from the two of them, we’ll prepare for the series like we did against Rain or Shine)
“So, both teams naman pareho magaling so kailangan nalang namin sigurong mag stick sa game plan. Kasi yun naman laging ginagawa namin.”
(Both clubs are good, so we need to stick to our game plan, because that’s what we do)
If TNT continues to play the way it has as of late, then it will be hard to fathom the thought of them bowing in the finals, regardless of who stands in their way. Still, if there’s anything the Philippine Basketball Association has proven, it’s that unpredictability is a common trend, especially in the playoffs. And while the Tropang Texters will be the favorites against either Air21 or SMC, the latter two still present unique set of challenges that can prove to be fatal.
“They’re very different,” Fonacier says about the Express and Mixers.
“For SMC, they’re always a dangerous team – they’re coached by a great coach, and they’ve won the last two championships. The finals, for them, has been a culture already, so that’s what we’re going against.”
However, the three-point shooting expert doesn’t discount the threat provided by the suddenly streaking Express, too.
“On the other hand, Air 21 has been a really hungry team, proving everyone wrong in their run right now. Whoever we face in the Finals is going to be a big test for us.”
Castro, who recorded 10 points, seven rebounds, and five assists last night, points out specific attributes of each club that could be troublesome for his team.
“Both teams magaling sa offense – Asi Taulava [and] yung import nang Air 21. Tapos, sa SMC, given na yung Triangle Offense. So, siguro, kahit sino nalang tapos gawa nalang kami nang game plan para kanino yung kalaban.”
(Both teams are good on offense. Air 21 has Asi Taulava and their import. SMC is good because of its Triangle Offense. So, whoever it is, we’ll make a game plan for that team)
And that game plan, much like it has the entire conference, will center on Coach Black’s chief belief: defense.
“We’ll be ready for both of them,” declares Fonacier. - Rappler.com