Ferocious on both ends, Petron Blaze ran Talk ‘N Text to the ground with a 105-83 victory last night that tied their best-of-seven PBA Governors’ Cup series at two games apiece at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Boosters came out strong following back-to-back blowout losses, keeping in step with the Tropang Texters in another high-scoring first half, before pulling away for good with a relentless attack in the last two quarters.
Game 5 of what is now a best-of-three affair is set Wednesday at 7 p.m.
After playing catchup for most of the series even in their narrow 88-89 Game 1 victory, the Boosters finally got a semblance of control for the first time in the series.
“We played without pressure and it helped us,” said Petron coach Ato Agustin. “We had a good start. We matched up better against them and this time we played smart and played good defense.”
Dennis Miranda set the tone with his tough defensive stand against Texters guard Jayson Castro and the rest of the Boosters followed suit, holding Talk ‘N Text to half of its field goal output from Game 3 at 28 for a 38 percent shooting clip.
Arwind Santos bounced back from a three-point showing the last time with 20 points and 14 rebounds, while Miranda continued his solid showing in the series with 19 points.
Import Anthony Grundy and Alex Cabagnot contributed 16 points each and combined for 15 assists for the Boosters, who scored 26 points off the Texters’ 18 turnovers.
The Boosters used a 31-8 blitz to open the second half, erecting its biggest lead of the series, 84-58, on Cabagnot’s triple with 1:43 left.
Grundy had 11 points in that searing third-quarter attack, including a four-point play off Castro, while Danny Ildefonso, getting ample minutes because of the spate of injuries that hit the Boosters, made half of his 10 points in the period.
Outplayed for almost the entire series, the backcourt trio of Grundy, Miranda and Cabagnot showed up this time as they combined to hold Castro, Most Valuable Player Jimmy Alapag and import Scottie Reynolds to a 12-of-38 clip.
The 5-foot-9 Alapag was named MVP, becoming one of the shortest players to win the honor during the Leo Awards before the game.
Alapag, drafted ninth by Talk ‘N Text in 2003, collected a total of 1888 points in the MVP derby, besting Santos (1687) and Barangay Ginebra’s Mark Caguioa (1317).
Alapag, Santos and Caguioa led the mythical first team that also included TNT’s Kelly Williams and Alaska center Sonny Thoss, also the Sportsmanship awardee.
Jayson Castro, who was also named Most Improved Player, was part of the second mythical team together with TNT teammate Ali Peek, B-Meg’s James Yap and Joe De Vance and Jay Washington of Petron.
Petron Blaze center Rabeh Al-Hussaini was named Rookie of the Year, while Santos led the All-Defensive team also composed of Talk ‘N Text’s Ryan Reyes, B-Meg’s Marc Pingris and Ginebra’s Willie Wilson and John Wilson.
PETRON 105—Santos 20, Miranda 19, Grundy 16, Cabagnot 16, Ildefonso 19, Guevarra 6, Duncil 5, Pennisi 5, Hubalde 4, Salvacion 4.
TALK ‘N TEXT 83—Castro 17, Reyes 16, Reynolds 12, Carey 9, De Ocampo 8, Alapag 8, Williams 7, Fonacier 5, Aban 1, Dillinger 0, Peek 0.
Quarters: 23-29, 53-50, 86-62, 105-83