PBA Cup: Castro’s clutch basket helps Talk ’N Text grab Game 2 of finalsBy Mark Giongco
MANILA, Philippines—Not even injuries could slow Jayson Castro down.
The fleet-footed guard made a go-ahead triple with 35.7 ticks left as Talk ‘N Text evaded a two-game series deficit with a 104-100 edge over B-Meg in Game 2 of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup best-of-seven finals series Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
“He has strained ligaments in three different parts of his left ankle. And in the last game, he sprained his right ankle after heavily favoring his left. He’s just really going on guts but he’s far from a hundred percent,” said TNT head coach Chot Reyes, whose squad bounced back after losing, 82-88, in the opener.
Castro hit 10 of his 23 points in the last quarter and six of which came down the stretch that helped the Tropang Texters rally from 94-99 down with only 1:38 left.
“”He’s just a warrior. We had a long talk (during) yesterday’s practice and I said Jayson sabihin mo kapag hindi mo kaya,” said Reyes. “But he said, ‘Coach I’m not a hundred percent, pero gusto ko makatulong.’”
After going 16-of-36 at the line in the first game, Talk ‘N Text didn’t go perfect but still managed to sink its free throws when it needed it most.
Jimmy Alapag made it a two-possession game, 104-100, with two freebies with four ticks left after Ryan Reyes made both of his free throws to atone for the Texters’ four previous misses at the line that gave the Llamados good chances to snatch the game back.
Unlike in Game 1, it was Talk ‘N Text that got off to a hot start and led by as much as 14 (32-18) in the portion of the second quarter.
And this time it was B-Meg’s turn to fight back to cut TNT’s lead to one, 49-48, at the half.
With momentum on their side, the Llamados continued to push in the ensuing quarter to even take the upper hand.
“I was mentally and emotionally ready for B-Meg to keep on coming back. Hell of a team, they got a hell of an import. After James hit that three-pointer to put them up five, in the timeout I just told my players to just relax,” said Reyes.
Import Donnell Harvey led the Texters with 29 points and 14 rebounds, Castro added five rebounds and five assists while Reyes and Peek added 13 and 12 points respectively.
B-Meg still had cracks to regain control but it failed to seize the opportunities.
Not with hurried and tough-angled fading three-point attempt by James Yap off the timeout before an error by Denzel Bowles led to Reyes’ pair at the stripe.
“Certainly, he (Yap) knew it was rushed, we all know that. We could have used more time and it was kind of a mental mistake,” admitted B-Meg head coach Tim Cone.
Bowles finished with 33 points and 13 rebounds while Yap had 25 points.
Game 3 will be on Friday with both teams looking to grab that all-important series lead.
“In a series between two evenly match teams, it will always boil down to almost always the last possession,” said Reyes.