For nearly three quarters, Talk ‘N Text and Petron Blaze went toe-to-toe. Then the Tropang Texters came up with a decisive surge and never looked back.
Using a 29-point explosion in the third canto as a springboard, Talk ‘N Text quickly regained its winning form by turning back depleted Petron Blaze, 92-82, to stay on top of the PBA Philippine Cup standings at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Larry Fonacier redeemed himself by drilling in 21 points plus six rebounds and four rebounds while three other teammates chipped at least 13 to help the Texters bounce back from a stinging 92-94 defeat inflicted by Alaska Aces last Friday and gain their seventh win in eight starts.
Kelly Williams churned in 10 of his 16 points in the second half while Ranidel de Ocampo and Juimmy Alapag combined for 30.
“It was a better second half,” noted Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black. “We gave up a lot of fastbreak points in the first half. But in the second half, we forced them to play halfcourt. We did a good job on the boards. We played much better defense in the second half.”
Arwind Santos waxed hot early with 11 first-quarter points but could only come up with six more for the Boosters, who dropped to sixth spot with a 3-5 card alongside idle Barako Bull.
Cat-quick Chris Lutz tallied 18 points while Jay Washington, who added 16 markers and usually plays the 4-spot, was forced to take the center in the absence of rookie Jun Mar Fajardo, Dorian Pena and veteran Danny Ildefonso.
From a 42-all count at the break and a 54-tied count with four minutes left in the third canto, the Tropang Texters suddenly went on a rampage, uncorking a telling 15-6 run–capped by Castro’s gutsy lay-up–for a comfortable 69-60 cushion into the fourth.
A Castro triple early in the payoff period gave TNT its biggest lead at 72-60 before both teams traded buckets–including four made three-pointers–before Fonacier made another try for an 83-74 lead in favor of the Texters.
Santos made a jumper that pulled Petron within 76-83 but the Texters held their ground, coming up with timely buckets and key rebounds–especially on the offensive glass–to totally keep the Boosters at bay.
“Nagalit si coach last time kaya kailangan naming mag-step-up dahil marami pang injured (Ryan Reyes and Jared Dillinger). Dami naming nagging defensive lapses against Alaska at sinigurado naming na hindi mauulit ‘yun,” noted Fonacier, who missed the potentially-tying elbow jumper in the waning seconds against the Aces.
Up next for the Tropang Texters are the slumping Gin Kings of Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, with Reyes and Dillinger likely to suit up.
Earlier, Jeff Chan scattered 12 of his game-best 22 points in the pivotal quarter as Rain or Shine finally doused cold water on Alaska’s scorching five-game winning run via a come-from-behind 101-93 victory.
Burly center JR Quinahan tallied 17 points while Ryan Arana and Larry Rodriguez teamed up for 23 markers as the Elasto-Painters sizzled with 30 points in the fourth that helped them notch their sixth win against two losses, good for second place.
"I don't put any pressure on Jeff. The only thing I ask of his teammates is to get him his touches. Whenever we run plays for him, ang sabi ko, 'Pahawakin n'yo lang.' He can draw attention, can be a decoy," stated Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao. "Isa pa, nananalo naman kahit di siya umi-score. My main concern was only Jeff's confidence.”
"Alaska is the hottest team right now but we knew its streak has to end somewhere. S'werte lang din siguro, maybe because they were either due for a loss or the law of averages caught up with them," he added.
Heady playmaker JVee Casio had 16 points, all coming in the first 36 minutes, while high-flying Cyrus Baguio added the same output but only had four in the final frame for the Aces, who slipped to fourth with a 5-3 slate.
Virtually absent for the Aces was do-it-all rookie Calvin Abueva, who was held down to just seven markers and six rebounds in somewhat dreary 18 minutes of play.
“Credit them because they played great defense in the second half. JVee got trapped a few times by their defense,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo. “Rain or Shine moved the ball well. And Jeff Chan was able to score 12 in the fourth. Maybe we’re due for one (loss). It’s a tough schedule. We played Talk ‘N Text, then Rain or Shine, and next is San Mig. But those teams will make us tougher. This will prepare us for the playoffs.
"You give up 30 points in the fourth. We were supposed to trap sometimes, we were not trapping. The guys in the court, they seemed lost. I can't see how we could have won the game when Rain or Shine scored 28 and 30 in the third and fourth. We had some guys who had some off nights and missed shots,” he added.
Rain or Shine 101 - Chan 22, Quinahan 20, Arana 13, Rodriguez 12, Norwood 9, Matias 8, Belga 7, Tang 4, Ibanes 4, Cruz 2.
Alaska 93 - Casio 16, Baguio 16, Espinas 13, Baracael 9, Dela Cruz 8, Hontiveros 8, Abueva 7, Jazul 6, Thoss 4, Laure 4, Eman 2, Reyes 0.
Quarterscores: 22-25, 43-47, 71-77, 101-93
Talk ‘N Text 92 – Fonacier 21, Williams 16, De Ocampo 14, Alapag 13, Aban 9, Carey 6, Castro 5, Ferriols 4, Alvarez 2, Peek 2, Raymundo 0, Gamalinda 0.
Petron Blaze 82 – Lutz 18, Santos 17, Washington 16, Yeo 10, Duncil 7, Miranda 6, Faundo 4, Cabagnot 4.
Quarterscores: 17-23, 42-42, 69-60, 92-82