MANILA: GRACE B. CASTILLO
Published — Tuesday 1 January 2013
Last update 1 January 2013 1:45 am
Talk ‘N Text was right in the head, as coach Norman Black described it, and the result was the Tropang Texters playing like the powerhouse team that it is.
Alaska, too, came out with the right frame of mind, and the Aces nearly pulled it out again against a team most everyone would dominate.
Talk ‘N Text survived yet another scare from the Aces, getting seven players in twin digits in a 99-95 decision that moved the Tropang Texters within another win of making the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Ryan Reyes had 15 points in just 19 minutes, and Ranidel De Ocampo fueled a huge second quarter by the Texters, who took control from there before fending off Alaska in the waning minutes.
“I thought that this is the first time that both teams concentrated on basketball and didn’t worry about the referees too much,” Black said. “I thought my guys bounced back from a poor performance in Game 4.” Alaska opened up a 10-2 lead in the first three minutes only to settle for a 20-all tie at the end of the first quarter.
That was when the Texters poured it all, with De Ocampo shooting 11 of his 13 in the period that had Talk ‘N Text zooming to leads of as many as 14 points and never relinquishing the upper hand until the end.
Alaska, though, did not simply roll over and die, doggedly rallying until the final 13 seconds when it had possession and with the Texters sitting on a shaky 98-95 lead.
But super Alaska rookie Calvin Abueva was a mortal in that final Alaska play, dribbling off his left knee while going for a drive against Kelly Williams and turning the ball over to the Texters with still eight seconds left.
And like idle Rain or Shine, the Texters can finish their best-of-seven series with the Aces in the first week of the coming year, clashing in Game 6 on Jan. 4.
The Elasto Painters also have a 3-2 lead over powerhouse San Mig Coffee, with Rain or Shine to see action a day earlier trying to prevent the series from going to a decider for the second straight time.
San Mig fought like there was no tomorrow on Saturday night and hammered the Elasto Painters, 79-67, in their Game 5 even with James Yap sitting on the bench for most of the second half because of five fouls.
Marc Pingris had a terrific outing, shooting 18 points that went with 10 rebounds as he downplayed the intensity that the Mixers played with against the most rugged team int he tournament.
Rain or Shine and San Mig last figured in a best-of-seven series in last season’s Governors’ Cup Finals, and the Painters also enjoyed a 3-1 edge only to lose Games 5 and 6 and be dragged into a winner-take-all match.
Abueva went on to lead the Aces with 19 points and 11 rebounds, and Cyrus Baguio had 15. There were a total of six Alaska players that scored 10 points or more, justifying Black’s claim that both teams came out to just play.
Black also described the coming four-day break for his team as a welcome respite which they could use better than the Aces.
“We are the older team, it might help us more,” Black said. “It gives us a chance to recover a little bit. They (Aces) are a much younger team than we are. I am looking forward to the rest, and get some of my players to heal some of their injuries.”