MANILA, Philippines – The new era for the Tropang Texters opened on a disappointing note when Talk ’N Text was dominated by the Alaska Aces in their season opener, 114-98, last Friday, October 23, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The game turned into a non-contest early on, as Vic Manuel and Alaska went ahead 30-18 after 12 minutes of play and didn’t look back the rest of the way for an easy win.
Other than the fact both teams are expected to be championship contenders, their game was highly anticipated thanks to the debuts of the top two picks in the 2015 PBA Draft, Moala Tautuaa and Troy Rosario.
Unfortunately for TNT fans, Tautuaa and Rosario had rather forgettable games.
The 23-year-old Troy scored 4 points and grabbed 3 rebounds in 15 minutes while going 2-of-7 from the field, while Moala, 26, battled foul trouble and had 2 points and 2 rebounds in 20 minutes while shooting 1-of-5.
“I had a hard time adjusting. It was different,” Tautuaa told the media after the loss. “It was a lot different than D-League, and I couldn’t find my rhythm today. Couldn’t find my groove, and it showed. I struggled everywhere on the floor.”
“Hindi nga ito yung ineexpect ko na debut game, pero, ganon talaga nangyari. Bawi nalang ako next game. Parang hindi ko nalaro yung laro ko. Well, time to learn. Mahaba pa yung season.”
(This wasn’t the debut game I expected, but that’s what happened. I’ll just bounce back next game. I wasn’t able to play my game. There’s still a long way to go this season.)
Tautuaa was asked if he felt “rookie jitters.” While he did admit that he might have felt some of those, he doesn’t want to pin the reason of his bad showing on that.
“This doesn’t feel like a rookie year for me, but, I mean, I can blame it on that, but I just didn’t find my groove today,” said the former PBA D-League MVP. “It could have been the rookie jitters or it was just, I was unfocused, and that’s how I felt today.
“Finding the fluid in the offense, cause I felt like I did okay on defense, until I started drawing a lot of fouls,” Tautuaa said about what he wants to improve on. “But that all stemmed from poor offense for myself, and I felt like I brought the team off the mark.”
Rosario claims the reason the Aces dominated was due to TNT’s pedestrian defense. Alaska shot 50% from the floor and 52% from downtown. They also scored 60 points in the paint and their bench contributed 70 points.
“Yung depensa namin, siguro hindi pa ganon, hindi pa yung ineexpect namin. Pero mahaba pa yung season, ma i-improve pa namin yung defense namin,” said the former National University Bulldog.
“Over 100 points kaagad yung iniscore nang kalaban namin, so sa tingin ko yun yung kailangan namin i-improve pa.”
(Our defense, that’t now how it is, that’s now how we expect it to be. The season’s still a long way to go. We will improve our defense. Our opponents scored more than 100 points, so I think we need to improve that.)
A bigger responsibility will be be put on Rosario’s shoulders now that TNT superstar Ranidel de Ocampo is expected to miss 6 to 8 weeks as he recovers from a herniated disc injury he sustained during a weight-lifting session.
Rosario, who came off the bench in his debut, will likely be asked to start. He and Tautuaa will also most likely see an uptick in minutes.
“Pressure, nandiyan naman lagi yun. Nasasayo lang kung paano mo i-accept,” Rosario said. “Saakin, accept ko yun parang challenge lang para mag improve. Hindi ko tina-take na, parang dahil nandiyan yung pressure, pababayaan na yung laro.”
(The pressure will always be there. It’s just up to you how you’ll accept it. For me, I take it as a challenge to improve. I don’t look at it as, just because the pressure is there, it will affect my game.)
“For myself, I did feel a little pressure, but the older guys, they talked to me and told me I shouldn’t,” said Tautuaa. “They just told me to play my game and today that didn’t come. Like I said, that’s something we’re going to need to work on in practice.”
Talk ’N Text is back in action against Mahindra on Saturday, October 31. – Rappler.com
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