Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes had a very frank reply when asked about the difference between defending Gary David of the Powerade Tigers, whom the Tropang Texters defeated in the Philippine Cup finals, and James Yap of the B-MEG Llamados, their current foes in the Commissioner’s Cup championship round.
“Denzel Bowles. Gary David didn’t have Denzel Bowles.”
The Llamados import has been a nightmare matchup for Talk ‘N Text, and he’s made the game a whole lot easier for Yap, one of the league’s deadliest local scorers. Some have likened the B-MEG pair to the Shaquille O’Neal-Kobe Bryant tandem of the Los Angeles Lakers in the early 2000s.
“It’s a matter of picking your poison with them,” said Reyes.
In the early games of the series, the Tropang Texters found some success with Ali Peek on Bowles, with Donnell Harvey coming in to provide help defense. But Bowles has responded by drawing Peek, and sometimes even Harvey, out and shooting midrange jumpers over them.
“When he’s making his outside shots, yes, Bowles is damn near unstoppable,” Reyes conceded.
“Ali and Donnell can match up with him one-on-one in stretches, but not long stretches. The problem is, with Kelly [Williams] and Ranidel [De Ocampo] struggling, they have to play long stretches.
“And you’ll find Denzel will eventually go wild. Same thing with James Yap.”
Reyes outlined his team’s problems with the monster big man Bowles, who was named the tournament’s Best Import before Game Four of the series.
“In the first place, he’s taller than any player we have. So he’s simply shooting over our guys,” he said.
“And we can’t even deny him the pass. He’s so tall, they just throw it up and he gets it.”
With Bowles practically sure to get his points, the key for Talk ‘N Text is to limit the rest of his teammates, particularly Yap and Peter June Simon, but Reyes thinks doing that is easier said than done.
“It’s unnatural to think James won’t get his in a best-of-seven series,” Reyes said. “And when James gets his 30 like last night, it’s very hard to beat them.”
Despite Bowles and Yap combining for 58 points in Game Five, Reyes remains glass-half-full about his team’s performance in the game, particularly on the defensive end.
“Still, we only gave up 82 points, and some of those were in garbage time,” said Reyes. “It should have been good enough for us to win had we shot halfway decent on offense.”
“That’s why I think we still have a chance. Slim as it is, we still have a chance because except for Game Four, we haven’t really played well yet in this series.”
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