Pushed to the limit by a very determined foe, Talk ‘N Text last night showed the resilience that has enabled the Tropang Texters to reign supreme in the PBA Philippine Cup the last two seasons.
“This is what (champion) teams are made of, you have to win games like this,” Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black said after a low-scoring 66-65 victory over underdog Alaska at the start of their Final Four series last night at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Texters needed to dig deep into their bag of tricks after the Alaska defense shut down their high-profile offensive machine practically all night.
They finally pulled through after holding the Aces scoreless in the last 2:34 to overhaul a four-point deficit with a huge three-pointer from Ryan Reyes with 14.3 seconds remaining turning out to be the marginal basket.
“This is a very difficult win for us,” Black continued. “I am happy because we ground it out. It became a defensive struggle and that’s what normally happens in the playoffs.
“This is our lowest point total for the season,” the Grand Slam-winning mentor pointed out. “We have to go back (to the drawing board) and take a look at what they did to us defensively. They (Aces) did a good job of slowing us down.”
Talk ‘N Text also benefited from the Aces’ seeming lack of experience in games like this one.
With more than enough time for a game-winning play, Tony dela Cruz took an ill-advised jumper that was way off target instead of giving the ball back to JV Casio.
The Aces also suffered a bad break when Casio, in an earlier play, didn’t get a continuation call after being fouled by Jason Castro.
“I have to see the video. I saw a foul that could have been a continuation,” Alaska coach Luigi Trillo, the most inexperienced and youngest in the semifinal cast, said. “Those are breaks of the game.”
The crucial Reyes basket came off a broken play, and he nailed it with just two seconds left on the shotclock to bail out the Texters from a miserable shooting night that had them missing five free throws inside the last five minutes.
Both teams combined for the lowest point production of the season, with the Texters winding up with the lowest winning score by any team here.
Game 2 is scheduled tomorrow at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
TALK ‘N TEXT 66—Castro 17, De Ocampo 11, Fonacier 8, Carey 8, Alapag 8, Reyes 7, Dillinger 3, Williams 2, Peek 2, Gamalinda 0, Aban 0.
ALASKA 65—Thoss 14, Jazul 11, Abueva 10, Baguio 8, Espinas 7, Casio 6, Hontiveros 5, Baracael 2, Dela Cruz 2, Belasco 0.
Quarters: 17-11, 34-28, 47-50, 66-65