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. 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. Therefore the notion I ignorantly developed, that TNT should win every championship possible, is erroneous and mythical.
The evidences follow.
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. 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. 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. 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!
PLEASE DON’T MAKE HIM THE GILAS COACH!
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. 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!!!
 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.
 Skip Bayless, an ESPN analyst, is as recklessly opinionated as Mo Twister while I consider Jason Webb as the country’s best basketball analyst.
 Although Damon Stoudamire could score a bit, it just wasn’t right that he averaged the 2nd most shots taken that season.
 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!
 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!
 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