Two days after his team dropped an 85-73 decision to Petron Blaze in game 7 of the 2011 PBA Governors’ Cup finals, Talk ‘N Text head coach Chot Reyes can still feel the pain of losing. More than just any other loss, it meant the end of the Grand Slam dream — at least for the season — for Reyes and the Tropang Texters.
“It was painful, pero ganun talaga ang game 7 — 50/50. It depends on who gets hot at the right time. Obviously it wasn’t us,” Reyes said, adding that injuries and fatigue finally caught up with his team.
“I still thought we had a good chance until Jason [Castro] went down with that ankle injury early in the third quarter. That, coupled with Ryan [Reyes]‘ pulled hamstring, were too much for us to overcome. No excuses, though, Petron played hard and really wanted it, and they got it. Di ko na makuhang magalit sa players ko. It was our 65th game in 10 months, our 19th finals game. Wala na talagang mapiga. They tried their best. Kinapos lang talaga. Remember, except for Ali [Peek], this was our players’ first experience playing in three conferences [in a single season].”
With the loss, Talk ‘N Text became only the second team in PBA history to fail to win a Grand Slam after making it to the finals of the third conference. Other teams had won the first two conferences of the season before sputtering in the third. But the only other team to advance to the finals in the season-ending conference and still lose a Grand Slam, apart from Talk ‘N Text, was Toyota during the league’s maiden season in 1975.
Reyes said, however, that Sunday’s loss won’t take anything away from what was the most successful season in Talk ‘N Text franchise history.
“Nakakahinayang not to get the Grand Slam. But then again, every other team in the league would have wanted to be in our place last Sunday night,” he said.
“What more can we ask? Unfortunately it didn’t end the way we wanted it to, but it was a hell of a year.”
After winning the Philippine Cup and the Commissioner’s Cup earlier this season, and finishing second behind the Boosters in the Governors’ Cup, the Tropang Texters finished the year with a 47-18 record, or a 0.723 win average, the highest by any team in the league since Great Taste’s 0.736 (39-14) in 1984.
The 47 wins is also the most in a season by a team since Alaska had an all-time league-high 51 during its Grand Slam year in 1996.
Reyes said if there’s anything he learned from the game 7 loss, it is in not giving up going for the Grand Slam.
“Huwag magsawa,” he said. “Let’s go for it again. Let’s just try to make as many finals as we can. Better to dare mighty things and lose; then not dare at all. There is no dishonor in trying your best.”
Talk ‘N Text has actually not ran out of mountains to scale. There is the chance to become the first team in 27 years to successfully defend an all-Filipino title. Great Taste was the last team to accomplish the feat in 1985. And that is what’s on Reyes’ mind at the moment. He has even already pinpointed a looming obstacle before they can accomplish it.
“All our focus now is in defending our All-Filipino crown. But it won’t be easy. Five of our guys, [Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams, Ranidel de Ocampo, Larry Fonacier, and Japeth Aguilar], will be with SMART-Gilas [for the 2011 FIBA-Asia tournament], which will end on September 25. We will most probably open the All-Filipino with a 10-man roster because we need to give the five guys ample rest. Hindi sila sunog, tostado na,” he explained.
Reyes also reacted to Petron Blaze coach Ato Agustin’s statements against him after the finals. Reyes allegedly said that it was he who was responsible for the start of Agustin’s playing career in the Philippine Amateur Basketball League. Agustin took issue with the insinuation.
The Talk ‘N Text coach, however, said he doesn’t understand where Agustin’s animosity was coming from.
“I do not recall any instance I did him wrong. I will not stoop to his level by dignifying his post-game remarks, first time niya eh. Pagbigyan na natin,” he said.
“I will say though that I never said na ako ang kumuha sa kanya sa Pampanga. My exact statement was: as team manager of Fuji in the PABL, one of the players we signed to a P3000-a-month salary was an unknown from Pampanga, Ato Agustin. I never thought he owed me any utang na loob. Baka sya lang ang nag-iisip nun.”
The Talk ‘N Text-Petron Blaze Governors Cup Finals’ is over. But it seems the fireworks of a new rivalry in the league has just begun.
Fidel Mangonon III is the head of statistics for the Philippine Basketball Association. For more discussion on the ins and outs of the league, follow Fidel on Twitter.
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