“Sometimes in life, you’ve got to know when there’s still something left. Baka naman wala na talaga,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes after their Game Five loss that brought them to the brink of elimination in the Commissioner’s Cup finals.
The words may have sounded defeatist, but Reyes assures he isn’t ready to throw in the towel just yet.
“If I sounded defeated, it was because we were defeated [in Game Five],” he said of his statement. “It was just a reflection of the reality we were facing at the time.”
“I certainly think we’re still in the fight.”
After practice ended for the Tropang Texters at the Moro Lorenzo Gym inside the Ateneo campus, Reyes collected four players in particular — so-called “vacationeers” Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel De Ocampo as well as Kelly Williams and Philippine Cup finals MVP Larry Fonacier — and held a private meeting among them.
Reyes said the previous night’s statement was about those four in particular, who have all seen their production drop in the finals.
“We’re seeing them miss easy shots, make uncharacteristic mistakes and lapses,” he said.
“We have to find a way to get them to neutral, and just not play really bad games and hurt the team.”
Reyes said the poor play of some of his top guys have an effect on the rest of their teammates.
“They’re putting in the effort. But if you have four mainstays like that not playing well, it takes a lot out of those who are playing well.”
The Talk ‘N Text coach pointed to Jared Dillinger, Ali Peek and Jayson Castro as three of the guys who have played well so far in the series.
Reyes may have a point about his musings on what’s left in the tank for Alapag, Fonacier, Williams, and De Ocampo, considering four have played in more games in the past few years than many of their teammates.
Three of them, Alapag, De Ocampo and Williams, gave up their break between seasons to don the colors of SMART-Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA Asia championships in Wuhan, China immediately after their failed Grand Slam run last year.
Fonacier, meanwhile, is playing in his fifth straight finals appearance with Talk ‘N Text, but actually played in the two previous championship series before that as part of the Alaska Aces for a total of seven in a row.
Reyes, though, refused further comment on whether the long grinds are a factor on his players’ performance.
“I don’t want to dwell on that kasi sasabihin na naman ng mga tao, ito na naman si Chot Reyes making excuses,” he said.
“We’re not an excuse-finding team. If we were, we wouldn’t have made five straight finals.”
He did, however, share that the Tropang Texters practice session before Game Six had no additional drama or emotional speeches and they remain business-as-usual moving forward.
“Basta habang humihinga pa kami, we’ll give it our best,” Reyes promised. “We’re not going to roll over without a fight.”
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