MANILA, Philippines — Talk N’ Text was “lucky” it had a big enough lead on Friday night.
The Texters survived a fiery run by Air21, where KG Canaleta caught fire from downtown, and held on to an 86-83 win in the 2013 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Talk N’ Text also banked on buckets from import Keith Benson down the stretch to salvage its first win of the season, which nearly slipped off its hands after losing a 22-point lead.
Canaleta was firing from all spots beyond the arch, nailing all but one of his total seven triples from the fourth quarter.
“It got a big scary there again. Luckily, we had a big enough lead and made a couple stops to win the game,” said head coach Norman Black.
With the 53-72 lead entering the fourth quarter decimated to just a point with under two minutes to go, Benson scored five of the last six points of the Texters.
Benson completed a three-point play with 38.1 ticks left, after connecting on a pass from Ranidel De Ocampo with 1:07 on the clock to finish with 30 points.
“It was a set play that we run, fortunately for us, it was executed well,” said Black, whose squad’s biggest lead was at 68-46, 2:06 in the third quarter.
The Texters also got a relief when Bonbon Custodio’s wide-open triple, which could’ve sent the game to overtime, as the time wound down did not go in.
Jayson Castro also got a piece of Mike Cortez’ shot from downtown in the final possession, as Air21 had enough time after a split freethrow trip by Jared Dillinger.
The Express failed to complete the spirited comeback, but managed to showcase their firepower as Canaleta finished with a team-best 23 points.
The closest Air21 got was a point, after a long two by Cortez, 79-80, and a conversion from Michael Dunigan, 81-82.
Dunigan and Cortez added 19 and 11 points for the Express.