Ranidel De Ocampo hit a triple with 33.7 seconds left last night and boosted Talk ‘N Text past Barangay Ginebra, 85-79, to forge a 1-1 tie in their Cebuana Lhuillier PBA Commissioner’s Cup Final Four series before the tournament’s biggest crowd at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
That triple, the first such basket by the Tropang Texters outside of Jimmy Alapag in the series, proved to be the biggest bucket of the night as Talk ‘N Text avoided dropping into a 0-2 hole where only three other teams in the past have been able to get out of.
Talk ‘N Text looked like it was ready to fade after the third period, but a swashbuckling 12-0 run opening the fourth period gave the Texters the momentum they needed before outsteadying the hard-fighting Gin Kings in another tight finish.
“Today, we came out with more intensity, more effort on defense,” Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black said.
Playing on borrowed time after picking up his fifth foul with still five minutes left, De Ocampo actually had a three-point play off Kerby Raymundo with 4:33 remaining which ushered the Texters ahead to stay, 76-75.
Ginebra, which blew the Texters off the floor in Game 1, 104-81, actually failed to score in the final 2:30 after import Vernon Macklin shoved the Gin Kings to within 79-80 with a power move off Jerome Jordan.
“Today was a do-or-die game for us,” Black said. “We knew that if we got down 0-2, we were going to be in trouble. You can understand the importance of trying to tie up the series.”
Jason Castro tossed in 22 points and Alapag fired 17. Jordan had a respectable 14-point, 12-rebound output.
Game 3 of this series will be played on May 8 after the All-Star Week in Digos, Davao del Sur.
The Kings wriggled out of a tight game late in the third with some spectacular plays highlighted by a length-of-the-court alley-oop pass by LA Tenorio to Macklin that made it 66-57 and pumped up the crowd of 17,272 all the more.
Meanwhile, San Mig Coffee, the defending champion, shoots for a 2-0 lead against Alaska at 6:45 p.m. today also at the Big Dome in Cubao.
Coming off a narrow Game 1 win, the Mixers are bracing themselves up for another tight contest, which San Mig coach Tim Cone said is “not a pretty game, but definitely a magnificent battle.”
Cone also said that the burden of adjustment, which is uncommon for the winning team, lies somewhat on them considering how well the Aces defended them in their series opener where San Mig scored just seven first quarter points.