Playing with renewed confidence sparked by a new go-to guy, Talk ‘N Text goes for the jugular against Barangay Ginebra today and the first title series slot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
By taking the last two games for a 2-1 lead in the best-of-five series, the Tropang Texters and new import Tony Mitchell can close out the crowd-darling Gin Kings in the 6:45 p.m. contest where Ginebra could be rejoined by reigning MVP Mark Caguioa.
“Tony Mitchell reminds me a lot of Tony Harris,” Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black said after his gamble on the 6-foot-5 Mitchell as last-minute replacement for the ineffective 7-foot Jerome Jordan paid off Wednesday night. “He’ll get better as the series goes on.”
With sweet moves to the basket and a feathery touch from the outside, Mitchell proved to be a huge matchup problem for the Kings. The former NBA D-League scoring champ wound up with 29 points despite getting into foul trouble early.
So pumped up were the Texters that, despite having an import that doesn’t really play inside, Talk ‘N Text outrebounded Vernon Macklin and the Kings, 65-46, to take control of Game 3 in the second half.
Larry Fonacier was the biggest local that stepped up for Black in Game 3, awaking from his long slumber to shoot 20 points—his biggest production in these playoffs—as Talk ‘N Text hardly missed the services of the injured Jimmy Alapag and Jared Dillinger.
Alapag could also make his return tonight.
Black devised a defensive blanket that kept Macklin out of his sweet spot, with Ali Peek bumping and grinding the energetic Ginebra import all night.
A win by Ginebra would force a rubber match on Sunday with the winner advancing to face either Alaska or San Mig Coffee in a best-of-five title series.
Alaska also has a 2-1 lead in that series, thanks to an 89-82 win on Wednesday night which the Aces carved out in front of 23,108 fans, the most ever in the PBA.