B-MEG power forward Marc Pingris had an amused reaction when told about Chot Reyes’ comments on Talk ‘N Text stars Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel De Ocampo, whom the acerbic coach described as on “a vacation” because of their poor performance in the Commissioner’s Cup finals.
“Well, sana magtuloy-tuloy na sila sa bakasyon,” said Pingris with a grin.
Reyes pointed to Pingris and Llamados guard Josh Urbiztondo as keys to the series, having outplayed their respective counterparts De Ocampo and Alapag.
Urbiztondo, too, smiled when informed about Reyes’ outburst which followed Talk ‘N Text’s Game Three loss to B-MEG.
“He uses that to motivate his team,” said Urbiztondo, who added that he hasn’t been doing anything special in his matchup against Alapag.
“I have a lot of respect for Jimmy, he’s a great player, he’s the reigning MVP. We just try to pressure him, make things difficult for him, because he and [Jayson] Castro are the engines of that Talk ‘N Text offense.”
In his first finals appearance, Urbiztondo hasn’t shied away from the spotlight, stepping up in crucial moments for the Llamados at both ends of the floor, to the delight of the heavy pro-B-MEG crowd that has packed the SMART-Araneta Coliseum in each of the past three games.
“I’m just taking it all in, it’s such a great experience.”
Five on five defense
Pingris, meanwhile, wonders if it’s fair for Reyes to single out De Ocampo and Alapag.
“Yung depensa naman namin kasi, hindi naka-focus sa isang tao lang. Kung mag-depensa kami, five-on-five, gusto naming pigilan lahat,” he said.
But he admitted that it really is his task to take on De Ocampo, a versatile scoring big man who has served as the barometer for the Tropang Texters’ success, most notably in Talk ‘N Text’s semifinals series against Barako Bull.
“In-assign talaga siya ni Coach Tim sa akin. Ginagawa ko lang yung trabaho ko, pinapahirapan siya, para hindi siya magkaroon ng confidence,” said Pingris, who was teammates with De Ocampo at Air 21 during their rookie season.
“Ibang-iba na yung laro ni Ranidel kesa noon. Ang laki na ng iginaling niya.”
B-MEG coach Tim Cone, for his part, said he wasn’t surprised by Reyes’ move to call out his underperforming players. In an earlier interview with InterAKTV, Reyes said the candor is part of Talk ‘N Text’s culture of demanding accountability from members of the team — including himself.
“That’s Chot’s style, and it works for him,” said Cone, who said Reyes made a similar move in another playoff series against him, back when he was still coaching Alaska in the 2008-09 Philippine Cup.
“We were playing in the finals, and he called out Ali Peek. Sonny Thoss was outplaying Peek through five games, and we were up in the series, 3-2. Peek played like a monster in Games Five and Six.”
More recently, the Talk ‘N Text coach publicly called out Ryan Reyes after a defensive lapse in Game Three of the Philippine Cup semifinals against Petron Blaze. The burly guard responded to the criticism by coming out firing in Game Four, putting up 17 points to lead Talk ‘N Text in scoring.
Urbiztondo said he expects Alapag and the rest of the Tropang Texters to bounce back from their Game Three defeat.
“We know they’re going to come out aggressive, so we’ve got to match their intensity. No, actually, we’ve got to exceed their intensity.”
Pingris, however, had a much different way of looking at things.
“Ine-expect ko? Ine-expect ko palagi na manalo kami. Basta stay-together lang kami palagi, mananalo kami.”
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