Defending champion Talk ‘N Text will be playing without an import against the GlobalPort in the elimination round of Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City today.
The match between the Texters and Batang Pier starts at 7 p.m. after the 4:15 p.m. opening game between last conference’s first runner-up Alaska and Blackwater.
Two days after its 6’9 import Ivan Johnson nearly got a lifetime ban for cursing PBA Commissioner Chito Narvasa, Talk ‘N Text coach Jong Uichico announced the readiness of his wards.
“We are preparing very well and our spirits remain high though we are playing without an import,” said Uichico. “We just have to play better and be cohesive as a unit.”
The PBA had Johnnson’s lifetime ban reduced to one year after he made a personal apology. The league also reduced Johnson’s P250,000 fine to P150,000.
“We can’t name yet who’s our possible import replacement next week, but we are expecting him to come early next week. I’m hoping our local players will take charge,” added Uichico.
Without an import, Talk ‘N Text will rely on Ranidel De Ocampo, Kelly Williams, Jayson Castro, Matt Rosser Ganuelas, Larry Fonacier, Ryan Reyes, Moala Tautuaa and Jeth Troy Rosario.
Talk ‘N Text previously beat Blackwater without an import on February 10 but lost to Meralco on Saturday.
The Batang Pier, on the other hand, also replaced its 6’8 import Brian Williams. GlobalPort team manager Bonnie Tan informed The Times via text message that interim 6’8 import Calvin Warner will be playing in place of Williams today.
“We are not going to underestimate Talk ‘N Text even though they will be playing without an import. Everybody knows the capability of Talk ‘N Text,” said coach Pido Jarencio.
Alaska will be playing against Blackwater for the first time this conference after its disappointing loss to San Miguel Beer in the Philippine Cup conference finals.
“Coach Leo and Blackwater have really done an excellent job in building their team,” said Alaska coach Alex Compton. “Carlo Lastimosa has emerged as one of the league’s top scorers, Art Delacruz is a rookie who is playing like a veteran and Reil Cervantes has great capacity as a scorer.”