Air21's Asi Taulava stops Harvey Carey of Talk 'N Text. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBNnews.com
MANILA – Cellar dweller Air21 pulled off an upset against Talk ‘N Text by edging out the defending champion, 102-100, in their PBA Philippine Cup game on Wednesday.
Asi Taulava scored 23 points against his former team to keep the Express’ Philippine Cup bid alive.
The 40-year-old also dominated the boards with 18 rebounds for Air21’s third win in 12 games.
Nino Canaleta added 16 for the Express, which engaged Talk ‘N Text in a tight game before outplaying the Tropang Texters in the final minutes.
The victory fanned Air21’s hopes of making it into the quarterfinals.
The Express will need to beat San Mig Coffee on Saturday to secure at least a tie for eighth place, which will merit them a trip to the next round.
“We still have to take care of business come Saturday,” said Air21 head coach Franz Pumaren in the PBA website.
“The beauty of our situation right now is that our destiny is still in our hands. We don’t have to rely on anybody else. We just have to win our next two games to at least earn a tie in the playoffs.”
Talk ‘N Text was leading, 97-91, when Canaleta fired a triple that unreeled an 8-0 run barely three minutes remaining.
After Bonbon Custodio’s charities, Jayson Castro canned a triple that brought the Texters closer at 100-101, with three seconds left in the game.
Canaleta, however, managed to fish a foul and split his free throws. This sealed the deal for the Express, which dealt the Texters’ their fourth defeat in 11 games.
The loss negated Castro’s 21-point effort for Talk ‘N Text, which also got 20 from Jimmy Alapag.
Air21 also drew double digits from Custodio, Ronnie Matias, Joseph Yeo and Eric Camson, leading to the Tropang Texters’ downfall.
Air21 102 - Taulava 23, Canaleta 16, Custodio 15, Matias 13, Yeo 13, Camson 10, Manuel 8, Cardona 4, Espiritu 0, Arboleda 0, Sharma 0.
Talk N' Text 100 - Castro 21, Alapag 20, De Ocampo 14, Reyes R. 11, Baclao 11, Seigle 8, Fonacier 6, Anthony 4, Reyes J. 3, Carey 2, Williams 0.
Quarterscores: 23-21, 45-46, 75-77, 102-100