Source : Nelson Beltran (The Philippine Star)
MANILA, Philippines - Jimmy Alapag played like the real MVP and defending champion Talk n Text survived a second do-or-die game, thwarting Petron Blaze, 111-108, to force a sudden death in their PBA Philippine Cup Final Four showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
Alapag sizzled with a near triple-double game with 29 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds, capping his game-long brilliance with a pair of pressure-packed charities as the Tropang Texters forged the 3-3 tie in their best-of-seven series.
“We’re the defending champs until somebody take it away from us. But no matter what happens, we’ll really keep on fighting,” said Alapag.
“I wish we could celebrate but all we did was tie the series. I hope we saved our best for Wednesday,” said Talk n Text coach Chot Reyes.
Ranidel de Ocampo and Larry Fonacier also dished out big games, helping TnT stay in the hunt for back-to-back all-Filipino crowns.
De Ocampo and Fonacier banged in three triples each and finished with a total combined output of 38 points, ably filling the holes left by the injured Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes.
Petron coach Ato Agustin rued they lacked the needed defensive effort.
“This is the first time in the series that we let them score over 100 points. We engaged them in an offensive game and that’s our biggest fault. We can’t beat them in that game,” said Agustin.
The Boosters fought the Texters through 12 deadlocks and 14 lead changes before faltering at the finish, allowing the reigning champs to stay on course of completing a rare comeback from a 1-3 hole.
Talk n Text hopes to become only the third team in league history to overcome a 1-3 deficit in a best-of-seven series. Barangay Ginebra and Purefoods did the feat in 1991 and 2006, respectively.
Alex Cabagnot missed three field-goal attempts and committed one error in a crucial stretch at endgame.
Like his coach, Cabagnot, however, said poor defense did them in.
“Shooting is not our problem. It’s defense,” said Cabagnot.
“Coach Ato told me to keep on shooting, and I think I really had to. (Had we got) one or two defensive stops, we could have won the game,” Cabagnot added.
Jeff Chan spiked a 26-point outing with a decisive binge all of his own in the second half as Rain or Shine drubbed Powerade, 112-98, to also send their semis series to a deciding Game Seven.
The lefty shooter scored 15 straight points in a five-minute stretch in the second half as the Elasto Painters opened a commanding lead that provided the buffer against attacks until the end.
“Our energy level was a lot better than it was the last time. We played their three scorers (Gary David, Marcio Lassiter and Jayvee Casio) well. We made them work for their baskets and they seemed to get tired,” said Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao.
“I think we’re a lot fresher going to Game Seven because practically only three players play for them,” Guiao also said.
Talk n Text 111 – Alapag 29, De Ocampo 23, Fonacier 15, Peek 12, Castro 11, Gamalinda 5, Aguilar 5, Dillinger 5, Carey 4, Williams 2, Alvarez 0.
Petron 108 – Santos 20, Cabagnot 18, Lutz 16, Ildefonso 16, Miranda 14, Tugade 10, Yeo 8, Reyes 6.
Quarterscores: 25-23, 47-44, 79-74, 111-108
Rain or Shine 112 – Chan 26, Lee 15, Matias 14, Buenafe 11, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 8, Cruz 6, Quinahan 6, Ibanes 6, Tang 5, Belga 5, Arana 2.
Powerade 98 – Lassiter 30, David 30, Kramer 15, Anthony 10, Casio 7, Antonio 5, Lingganay 1, Martinez 0, Vanlandingham 0, Allera 0, Cruz 0, Adducul 0, Crisano 0.
Quarterscores: 22-30, 54-50, 80-76, 112-98