Talk ‘N Text again relied on its locals as the Tropang Texters ousted the Petron Blaze Boosters with a 96-86 victory to barge into the Final Four of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup yesterday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jason Castro and Ryan Reyes exploded in the stretch and the Talk ‘N Text defense held the Boosters to seven points in the last nine minutes to complete a 2-0 sweep of their best-of-three quarterfinal series.
“Once again, you have to give a lot of credit to the local players,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black, who tried to put some comic relief in assessing the mediocre performance of import Jerome Jordan during the traditional winning coach’s interview.
“I must have told (him) the wrong things,” Black said with a wry frown when asked if he sat down with his 7-foot import, an NBA veteran with the New York Knicks to improve on a 11-point, five-rebound effort in Game 1.
What made it a laughing matter was that Jordan had the exact same output last night and yet the Texters were able to pull out the sweep mainly because four locals led by Ranidel de Ocampo scored in twin digits to back up their tough defense.
Defending champion San Mig Coffee took its best-of-three series opposite Meralco to the full route with a 100-92 win in the nightcap.
Denzel Bowles scored 35 points and had 14 rebounds and rookie Alex Mallari dropped a career-high 16 points coming off the bench as the Mixers forged a do-or-die Game 3 date with the Bolts on Wednesday at 6:45 p.m.
“We certainly haven’t won anything yet. There’s nothing to get excited about,” San Mig coach Tim Cone said.
San Mig also won Game 3 of its quarterfinal match with this same Meralco crew in this tournament last season.
The Texters trailed, 77-79, when Jordan took to the line six straight times and made it 83-79 heading into the final 6:39, igniting a 19-7 finishing kick that had the Boosters eating their dust and taking a quarterfinal exit for the second straight tournament.
Talk ‘N Text clamped down hard on the Boosters, holding them to 12 points in the fourth quarter to advance against either Barangay Ginebra or No. 2 Rain or Shine in a best-of-five Final Four series.
The No. 7 Gin Kings and the Elasto Painters play their KO match at 6:45 p.m. today also at the Big Dome in Cubao with Ginebra having the momentum after rallying in the fourth quarter Saturday night for a 90-83 decision.
Alaska, the elimination round topnotcher, booked the first semifinal slot on Saturday after turning back Air21, 87-81, and is awaiting the result of the San Mig Coffee-Meralco duel.
TALK ‘N TEXT 96—De Ocampo 17, Castro16, Reyes 14, Alapag 12, Jordan 11, Dillinger 8, Al-Hussaini 7, Peek 7, Fonacier 4, Aban 0, Ferriols 0, Carey 0.
PETRON BLAZE 86—Lassiter 23, Sims 17, Fajardo 15, Santos 15, Miranda 10, Cabagnot 4, Washington 2, Lutz 0, Tubid 0, Pena.
Quarters: 28-32, 52-56, 73-74, 96-86
SAN MIG COFFEE 100—Bowles 35, Mallari 16, Pingris 12, Simon 11, Barroca 9, Yap7, Devance 6, De Ocampo 3, Reavis 1.
MERALCO 92—Dawson 23, Cardona 14, Hodge 12, Ross 10, Hugnatan 9, Salvacion 9, Reyes 8, Buenafe 3, Manuel 2, Artadi 2.
Quarters: 24-28, 52-42, 75-68, 100-92