Talk ‘N Text, right now, is a team in transition.
Chot Reyes stepped down at the end of last season after four successful years that saw Talk ‘N Text win four titles, including back-to-back All-Filipino titles in the Philippine Cup the last two years. Former consultant Norman Black is set to take over once the UAAP season ends, which means the Tropang Texters could look like a vastly different team this year.
Some teams still point to Talk ‘N Text as one of the contenders for the crown due to having a virtually intact lineup from the previous years — the one omission being Japeth Aguilar, who is trying his luck in the United States — but internally, they aren’t looking at the title picture, or at least not yet.
“It’s too early to think about a title run. We’re more concerned with a smooth transition,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Nash Racela, who is handling head coaching duties while Black remains tied up with the Ateneo Blue Eagles. “Presently, we’re searching for balance between Chot’s dribble drive and Norman’s deliberate offense.”
The dribble drive offense that has led to plenty of team success is considered a guard-oriented system that relied heavily on the ability of players to break defenses down with penetration. Black favors a more deliberate style that takes advantage of his team’s big men, something he never had a shortage of in the collegiate ranks.
The key for Talk ‘N Text, then, is how quickly they can adjust from the old system they had run to near-perfection to a new style they’re learning on the fly. If they can adapt quickly, there’s little reason to think they wouldn’t be back right where they were these past few seasons – right smack in the title picture.
“We’re still struggling with the changes right now but we should be okay once the conference comes along,” said Racela.
Outlook: Chot Reyes has a fiery temperament on the court. He dresses flashy, can come off as arrogant in his interviews, and can be biting in his sarcasm. All told, he doesn’t exactly lend himself to being a lovable figure, and with his success, he has been a lightning rod of “hate” for PBA fans from opposing teams.
Amid all that hating, fans have a hard time seeing Chot Reyes for what he actually was: the best coach in the PBA, by far, over his four-year stint with Talk ‘N Text.
People would be quick to point to the fact that he had a talented lineup, which they say is the reason for his success. But Talk ‘N Text already had a talented lineup even before he took over, but the franchise didn’t do a lot of winning. It was he who helped nurture a culture of winning in the franchise.
This isn’t to say that Norman Black couldn’t be successful; even before his run at the helm of Ateneo, he had already won 10 PBA titles. But it’s still going to be a tough adjustment to step into Reyes’ shoes.
At Ateneo, Black didn’t win a UAAP title until his fourth season with the team. By that time, most of the team was composed of his recruits — guys he had brought in himself. If he is unable to immediately replicate Reyes’ success at Talk ‘N Text, how long would it take before he asks to bring in people who would fit his system better?