The Real Reason Behind Talk ‘n Text’s Success

Ever since Talk n’ Text traded for Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes in what seemed like an Ocean’s 13 heist, I started to develop the belief that the Tropang Texters should win every conference —- import or no import. Like most sour-graping PBA fans, I thought that TNT was too talented not to win every championship from then on. They have it good unlike the conduit teams of the PBA and they have it better than the League’s elite; it’s just unfair. Cut my dislike for the Miami Heat in half and there you have my feelings for MVP’s baby. Chot Reyes’ team has two former MVP’s in Alapag and Williams, Finals MVP’s in Jason Castro (the team’s best player as we speak and arguably the PBA’s best combo guard) and Larry Fonacier, First Team All-Defenders in Ryan Reyes and Harvey Carey, the League’s best scoring big man in Ranidel De Ocampo, one of the most athletic and an All-Star caliber player in Jared Dillinger (surefire star with another team), elite big man Ali Peek and The Potential — Japeth Aguilar. You just drowned! That’s a 10-man deep lineup; and when teams go to the Indianapolis Speedway with them, just like what Powerade did in the recent Philippine Cup Finals, they end up getting left in the dust[1]. So the elimination round and the semis are just formalities for TNT, right?

The Skip Bayless in me wants to say yes but the Jason Webb in me says NO; because basketball history shows that there have been an inordinate number of teams that were superiorly talented but did fail to meet expectations[2]. Therefore the notion I ignorantly developed, that TNT should win every championship possible, is erroneous and mythical.

The evidences follow.

Some of Sheed's deeds that season: was called for an NBA-high 41 technical fouls, threw a towel at Sabonis' face and charged at head coach Mike Dunleavy.

The 2000 Portland Trailblazers came precariously close to the NBA Finals; putting the ’01 version of the team in good position to challenge the Lakers for the Championship once again.  But that year, everyone wanted a bigger piece of the pie (not figurative for Shawn Kemp) and the team ultimately imploded. Rasheed Wallace, their best player, talked smack on the referees —- and against his teammates. In the process, his ego grew larger than the bald spot on his head. Damon Stoudamire was still an inefficient points guard[3]. Up and coming sixth man Bonzi Wells was averaging career highs in points, minutes (yet he wanted more), drug busts and DUI’s.

In the PBA, the San Miguel Beermen/Magnolia Beverage Masters teams from 2007-2010 had only one Ring to show for despite arguably being the most talented team in the PBA during that span of time. Their plan to stock up on talent like the Kapamilya Network ultimately backfired because team roles were left undefined and vague. Practically everyone was a role player and there was no established go-to-guy. Those SMB teams featured bad mixtures of players’ careers going on different directions. There were established current superstars, veterans who still thought they could play and wanted more touches, role players who thought they should start, and young guns who showed potential —- something players couldn’t realize without the ball in their hands.

The lesson for Blazers and SMB Management then, is that you can stock-pile as much talent as you can but if these players always score “Poor” in the “Good Manners and Right Conduct” department, and team roles turn out murky, then the formula you constructed wouldn’t work. Superior talent only puts a team in position to win games (sometimes it doesn’t even result to W’s #2011-2012WashingtonWizards) not championships. A deep lineup or a combination of dynamic talents can only add up to a particular amount of quality basketball played by the whole team. Sometimes, 2+2=3 in basketball or quite simply, the whole being lesser than the some of its parts.

So, if it’s not talent, what pushes a dynasty like TNT to the top? It’s The Secret of Basketball; a secret that only teams that have gone to Mount Olympus know. The secret of basketball (as revealed by Isaiah Thomas in Bill Simmons’ The Book of Basketball) is that it’s not about basketball.

Ulol, ‘di nga?

Yes IT’s not about basketball. It’s about Ryan Reyes playing with all-heart in Game 2 of last year’s Philippine Cup Finals and then going straight to L.A. still wearing his #10 jersey to attend his brother’s funeral, and then coming back for Game 4. It’s about Ali Peek forgiving the gunman, Kelly Williams’ dedication to recover from idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, Jimmy Alapag slowly giving way to Jason Castro, Larry, Jared and Ranidel’s patience, and it’s about a guy like Gilbert Lao accepting his role[4]. It’s about Chot Reyes berating his players in practice and letting them answer back.

It’s not about basketball.

TNT may be as loaded as Toyota and Crispa, yes, but that’s not the only reason why they are winning. They have won 3 of the last 4 conferences because they hire good-character guys who like each other, work their asses off, know their roles, ignore statistics and value winning above everything else[5]. TNT wins rings because players 1-12 sacrifice to make everybody happy. They’re at where they are right now not because MVP spoils them but because everyone is on the same page. The Tropang Texters know The Secret and they live it well.

I won’t put the last dot on this article without commending Chot Reyes and his equally star-studded coaching staff. When TNT went down 3 games to 1 against the Petron Blaze Boosters in the last Philippine Cup Semis, I wrote this on my Facebook wall:

I’m sorry but TNT Coach is the most overrated in the PBA! Atom bomb has been kicking his butt.

1. Keeps giving excuses: Petron has the 2 best players in the PBA – What do you have? An all-star team!!! Come on!

2. Overuses Alapag: “MVP” was ineffective the whole game (the past year actually) on pick n rolls and was exploited on D.

3. Gets untimely T’s!


Do I take all of those back? No, because he really keeps on giving excuses,  sometimes overuses Alapag and gets untimely T’s. But no matter what people say, he has done what Phil Jackson failed to do in 2004, what Butch van Breda Kolff failed to do with the ’69 Lakers, and what Erik Spoelstra failed to do with last year’s Heat: that is to make so many talented players live out The Secret of Basketball[6]. If anything, his masterful work with TNT is underappreciated.

So when TNT wins its next Championship, you wouldn’t have to Google “TNT complete roster” to find the reason why they won, because you already know the real reason behind their success.


To everyone not bored or not pissed enough to read up to this point: Shhhhhh! Don’t send this link to the Miami Heat!!!

[1] The Tigers should have tried to play a slower tempo in at least one of the games of that series just to see if they had a chance at beating TNT that way. They honestly had no chance in beating the Texters in their running game.

[2] Skip Bayless, an ESPN analyst, is as recklessly opinionated as Mo Twister while I consider Jason Webb as the country’s best basketball analyst.

[3] Although Damon Stoudamire could score a bit, it just wasn’t right that he averaged the 2nd most shots taken that season.

[4] Gilber Lao goes way back with Chot Reyes. He was drafted 11th overall by the Coca-Cola Tigers who eventually won the All-Filipino Conference later that year. Over his decade-long career, Lao is averaging 1.10ppg and 1.23 rpg in 8 minutes of playing time. He must be giving TNT big men fits in practice!

[5] A source that has seen them practice on a daily basis had this to say: “Yung body language nila sa practice as if parang playoff game lagi pinaghahandaan. Walang petiks sa kahit anong drill. Parang yun attitude ni MVP na ‘2nd place will never be enough’ nagrurub-off sa kanila. Grabe magtrabaho yun Alapag! Kung ganun best player mo paano pa kaya yun iba?” I can’t help but to compare this to what I saw with the Alaska team a few years ago when I was going to Moro Lorenzo everyday; medyo petiks sila!

[6] The ’69 Lakers team featured Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West and Elgin Baylor. They went ahead 2 games to none over the Celtics (featuring 100 year-old player-coach Bill Russel and Don Nelson) but eventually lost at home in Game 7

    • Ardie
    • March 28th, 2012

    Partly correct. Pero you can’t deny na malaking factor pa din ang star- studded na lineup ng TnT. For sure madami din teams na meron ganyan attitude but they just don’t have enough talents.

    I think the best team to describe ng article mo is the Alaska Milkmen of the 90’s. First five lang talaga ang masasabing mo na star players. Actually big three lang talaga. Then you have Bolado, Ramas, Gomez, Castelo, Backman, Reyes on the bench. Compare that bench on TnT’s bench now.. diba.. 🙂

    • Yup. I’m not denying naman na malaking factor ang talent. I’m saying na it can only do so much for a team. ’90’s Alaska Milkmen is my favorite ever! Mahina nga bench nila except for Rodney Santos pero they had 5 Hall-of-Famers play for them (4 at the same time).

    • Tim Cone
    • March 28th, 2012

    Well said, well-written. There’s more to building teams than just collecting talent.

    • Coach Tim Cone?! Thanks!

    • Dana
    • March 28th, 2012

    Great read! One of the best (if not the best) articles that I have read about TNT so far! Made me proud as a TNT fan! I couldn’t agree more! Thanks, Sir!

    • You’re welcome! Thanks!!!

    • junB
    • March 28th, 2012

    correct me if im wrong, but i believe it was coach toroman who want kelly williams and ryan reyes to be part of the Smart Gilas national team that’s why they landed on MVP team.

    • It’s the first time I heard that.

  1. Naniniwala akong LAHAT ng players sa PBA ay magagaling!!! hinde naman sila mapupunta sa PBA o kukunin ng Team nila kung hinde, dba??

    maganda lang tlaga ang system ng TNT.. walang BUWAYA!!! pwede namang itry ng ibang team yung ganung sistema kaya lang takot sila.. kaya dun sila natakbo sa star player nila!!!

    ang TNT.. grabe tiwala nila sa isat isa.. lalo na si jimmy.. hinde namimili ng papasahan ke star player o bench player ka..

    yun ang wala sa ibang team,, wala silang PUSO ni JImmy…
    si Jimmy.. galit na galit nga ko jan.. kasi walang pakealam sa stat nya!!!!basta gumagana teammates nya OK na sakanya kahit taga pasa lang sya… gagawa lang sya pag kelangan at walang nagana sa TNT… tama ka sir he’s giving way to jason talaga…

    naiyak ako sa article na to ..

    • Thanks Thanks!!!

      • raymond reyes
      • April 3rd, 2012

      : tama ! kaya idol ko ang TNT eh !
      : Go TNT sana mag champion ul8 kayo !
      : God Bless . . Tropang Texter ! ! !

    • ngayon ko lng nbasa article na to and it really shows what TnT is. Wlang tatalo sa effort physically and emotionally ni ryan reyes. you got the best comment about this article 🙂

  2. LAHAT naman ng players pwede maging star plyer.. kung bibigyan ng chance 🙂

    thanks to coach chot!! halos lahat ng players niya binibigyan nya ng chance… look at TNT now.. haha

    salamat sa article na to!! galing galing 🙂

    • KR
    • March 29th, 2012

    Pls correct me if I’m wrong…. So are you saying that the main reason on TNT’s success is letting players understand his role and knowing your strengths and weaknesses then trying 2 develop them?

    • It’s part of the reason. Of course malaking bagay rin talent nila. Parang talent is the first step talaga. If you don’t have it, wala mangyayari sa team mo. Pero, kung may talent ka naman at wala kang chemistry wala rin mangyayari sayo. You have to have both if you want to win a Championship.

  3. Well said, an example of doubters who somehow found themselves wrong again. Cant blame you me myself sometimes think like that.. when all things seemed to be wrong with TNT but in the end it seems like things are going the way it is as if it was planned or something. TNT is not just talent. it is the chemistry and how they compliment each other not just in the court but also in bench,

  4. Haay. I consider myself as one of the fans of Talk n Text nung lugmok pa sila. I started watching PBA HS pa lang ako TnT kagad naging team ko dahil napakashooter ng #3. Panahon ni Taulava, Ductile pa ang buhok ni JImmy, andun pa si Vic Pablo, Bong Ravena, Mark Telan, Patrick Fran, Donbel Belano, Don Camaso. Harvey Carey, di ko na maaalala yung iba. Haha. Yang line-up na yan. laging bugbog sa Brgy. Ginebra. Mapaqurters, semis, at finals. hirap na hirap Talk n Text sa Ginebra nun, halimaw pa si Caguioa at Helterbrand and Menk.
    Pero ngayun, nasa tugatog n ng tagumpay. haha

    • Good job! True fan!

      • tama ka jan dre!!!!tayo na ngayun nasa taas

      • Yeah man. It has been a roller coaster ride. From Phone pals to tropang texters. From ashes to glory. I really like coach chot when he was still in san miguel, because of his fashion, and what I really admired the most about him was in a semifinals(if i am not mistaken) against Ginebra, both san miguel and ginebra are missing free throws. You see, even caguioa, jay jay, rodney, seigle, don-don, and those who are fouled are missing at the free throw line. After that horrible quarter, he threw basketballs in the hardcourt and let the San Miguel squad do some free throw shooting. 🙂 Hope you read this Coach Chot!

    • aq since elementary pa. hehe di mo ba inabot nung 2 import ng tnt dte, c Honeycutt at michael?

      • inabot ko un! 🙂 2003 ba un?

        • Jay
        • July 24th, 2012

        d ko maalala pre. hehe basta ang naaalala ko andun sina telan, pablo,belano,camaso,asi,miller,avenido, etc hehe tanda q p ung npaaway si asi at si honeycutt s guest team na US Pro Ams. hehe c joel banal p ata coach nla during that time. ung my tradition sila n lagi nagppkalbo ang buong team hehe

  5. Well I hope all haters would read this. Very well-said! nice job of appreciating a team despite of not being a fan.

    • Yes! Definitely not a TNT fan. hahaha Pero yun nga I appreciate them! Alaska talaga ako! hahaha Please spread this to all the PBA fans not just the haterzzz.

    • Grace
    • March 29th, 2012

    We all know what happened in Game 5 of the semis. Petron should have win if not for the biased decisions of the referees. Yes, TNT is a great team, BUT one of the reasons for such win is that they are being managed by MVP who happens to be so rich. ??? #justsaying

    • Totoo naman na malaking rason si MVP. I’m sure other players would love to play for a boss like MVP.

        • Grace
        • March 29th, 2012

        yeah right. that’s why they won game 5 in the phil cup. having MVP as boss, with deep pocket, and yes, referees are in need of money. that scenario puts their win into question which also puts their championship into big??????. integrity at stake.


  6. tama tnt na tlaga ang bubuhay sa grandslam!!!

    • dhiejay dela cruz tulabot
    • March 29th, 2012

    That’s true… TNT has a blessed team in the PBA kahit maraming nagsasabing agaisnt sa kanila they keep on playing para sa team nila…

    Makikita mong walang sapawan, nagtutulungan at ang turingan na nila ay parang isang pamilya na…

    Makikita mo yan nuong nabiril si ali peek, as coach chot said in the celebration of their champion in the philippine cup…

    “When ali peek was in the hospital all the players and staff are in the room,.. Make prayers and you will see the champion all over the team” it’s not exactly what coach chot said but this is all I hear..

    That’s TNT when they win,.. thankful kay lord sa blessing but if they lose just like a lost for a grandslam they sad but still thanks to god for all the blessings…

    TNT has a blessed team and I admired coach chot for his patience to his team…

    That’s why TNT has a KEEP THE FAITH WORD

    Godbless TNT LABAN TROPA 🙂

    • misterching
    • March 30th, 2012

    Good read. Not a big fan of TnT either but have to admire the way they manage the team.

  7. Good read. gotta admire the way MVP manages his teams

  8. omg tears! 🙂 im so proud of them.

    • mackiz
    • April 3rd, 2012

    eto na ang pinaka-magandang article na nabasa ko tungkol sa TNT .. isa akong big fan ng TNT .. na-touch ako dito sa article na to keep it up !

    • Thanks!

  9. ako din matagal ng fan ng TNT kahit nasa lugmok sila noon ng pagiging mahina.. ang tagal kong inantay ang pagkakataong ito na sunod sunod ang panalo ng TNT… maraming salamat sa inyo tropa lalo na sa iyo Idol Jimmy.. ngayon, dalawang taon na kayong namamayagpag!!! sana, makuha na ninyo ang Grandslam!!!

    • Nornormabat
    • April 5th, 2012

    Im not Tnt fan, im a big Fan of BGK. Sobrang laking factor talga ung ALL-STAR at chemistry nila. Talagang masasabi mong sila talga ang Champion, nakakakaba talga kapag tnt ang kalaban ng ginebra pero masarap sa feeling kapag natalo mo ang mas magaling na team dba. Basketball po ang laro walang tsmba. Props to TNT astig kaung TEAM! TNT and BGK sa FINALS!

    • Nornormabait
    • April 5th, 2012

    Im not Tnt fan, im a big Fan of BGK. Sobrang laking factor talga ung ALL-STAR at chemistry nila. Talagang masasabi mong sila talga ang Champion, nakakakaba talga kapag tnt ang kalaban ng ginebra pero masarap sa feeling kapag natalo mo ang mas magaling na team dba. Basketball po ang laro walang tsmba. Props to TNT astig kaung TEAM! TNT and BGK sa FINALS

    • florenz dela cruz
    • April 11th, 2012

    Talent + Chemistry + Heart. yan meron ang TnT. Before d ako fan ng TnT pero after they acquired Kelly and Ryan.naging fan na ako. iba tlga ang heart nilang dalawa. true champions. kudos TnTNation. Great Article 🙂

    • Topher
    • April 18th, 2012

    what they have is chemistry yan ang bagay na wala ang smb/petron .. sa lakas ng line up nila you expect them to won atleast 3 or more champonships but they didnt .. parang yung players kulang din sa desire manalo ..



    • christopher
    • May 22nd, 2012

    yung c dobol r grabe mglaro parang wla ng bukas. .khit ms malamit yung kalabn sa bola nauunahan nya. .galing nitong article nto

    • Christopher
    • May 22nd, 2012

    I agree wd this article kya lng kulang. .wag ntin kalimutn/kaligtaan yong cnabi ng isang player nung minsang ngchampion cla na “the real #1 is the Lord Jesus Christ bcoz w/out Him we cant be champions” -kelly williams

    • demi
    • July 21st, 2012

    truly, all were very well said. Un lng un, the secret, at wala nang iba pa. kaya pla unang nood ko ng PBA, TNT players had caught my attention ’til i admired them all…!

  12. i’m so sad for TNT this season but I know it’s not for them. maybe next conference will be better. sayang lng wla n si coach chot nun at kulang2 na ang tropa. goodluck and godbless tropa!

    • nikki
    • July 22nd, 2012

    This article gave me goosebumps. That 3-0 of the texters to the boosters was one hell of a fight. I remember that 3-3 game at cuneta astrodome. There were cheers for both team everywhere, banners for them were scattered plus the bass drums of each team gave us, the crowd gazillion of heartbeats everytime. You can really see in their (tnt) eyes that they do not want to disappoint their fans who really believe in them since that 3-0. Aaaah! Cant say anything more. I just love tnt.

  13. they really are close to each other that’s why they can easily talk about what they should do to improve the team..i really love their team work kahit na sobrang daming star players..pero kahit na die-hard fan ako ng TNT, masaya pa rin ako na hnd sila nakapasok ng Finals this conference, kasi they really need rest..sobrang daming may injuries sa kanila at sobrang tagal na nilang nasa finals, kaya kelangan nila magrest mentally and physically 🙂 well, good entry 😀

      • Jay
      • July 24th, 2012

      maybe this conf. and the next is reserved for rest. if im not mistaken next conf nga b mwwala ung ibng plyer ng TnT for national team? time to shine na pra s mga reserved player ng tropa lalo n si pareng gilbert lao. hehehe

  14. Im a certified fan of TNT. And i love to read this article 🙂
    Thanks for making this. Let Go TNT !

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