MANILA (UPDATE) -- Defending champion Talk 'N Text survived a huge 4th quarter rally by Rain or Shine to win Game 1 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals, 87-81, on Wednesday.
After trailing the Texters in the first 3 quarters, the Painters came within 3 points, 79-76, with over 3 minutes left in the game.
Talk 'N Text's Jimmy Alapag guards Rain or Shine Chris Tiu on Wednesday's PBA Philippine Cup finals. The Texters took Game 1, 87-81. Photo by Mark Cristino for ABS-CBN news.com
But Talk 'N Text regained its composure and tightened its defense to quell Rain or Shine's uprising.
Jared Dillinger paced the Texters' balanced attack with 13 points, 3 rebounds and 3 assists.
“We know we're a good offense team but defense wins championships. I think we showed that tonight,” said the 6’5” guard.
Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black, whose team led by as many as 18 points, said Rain or Shine fought back just as he had expected.
“We're playing Rain or Shine... We don't really have any expectations going into the series that we can beat them by big margins,” said Black.
“We know they'll fight to the end, they have a very good coach, great coaching staff and good players. We’re just trying to win games, if we can win by half a point, that's good enough for me at this point of the season,” added the 10-time PBA champion.
Talk 'N Text now leads the best-of-7 series, 1-0.
The Texters ambushed the Painters in the first half by zooming to a 33-15 advantage at the onset of the second quarter.
Jeffrei Chan and Jireh Ibanes tried to stop the bleeding, but Rain or Shine was still lagging Talk 'N Text by 12 points, 51-39, at half time.
Ranidel de Ocampo rifled back-to-back threes early in the third quarter to push the Texters' lead to 16, 57-41.
Late in the third canto, Elasto Painters' Jervy Cruz's free throws and Chris Tiu's five straight points cut the Texters' lead to 8, 65-57.
Rain or Shine continued their charge in the fourth when they unreeled a scorching 17-8 run that decimated Talk 'N Text's lead to just 3 points, 79-76.
But Larry Fonacier's triple and the Texters' stringent defense in the final minutes took the fight out of the Elasto Painters.
Jason Castro and De Ocampo finished with 16 points each for Talk ‘N Text, while Fonacier and Jimmy Alapag combined for 18 points.
Cruz was Rain or Shine’s top scorer with 13, while Paul Lee added 11.
Black said they would have to fine tune their game before they meet Rain or Shine again on Friday.
He said the Elasto Painters were able to force them to commit errors in the final two quarters.
“We did a very good job taking care of the basketball in the first half but we made too many turnovers in the second half, that's one of the major reasons why they were able to get back into the basketball game,” Black said.
“So those are areas that we have to fix in Game 2.”
Tal ‘N Text 87 - Castro 16, R. De Ocampo 16, Dillinger 13, Fonacier 9, Alapag 9, Peek 8, Williams 6, Raymundo 3, Reyes 3, Alvarez 2, Carey 2, Gamalinda 0, Aban 0, Ferriols 0
Rain or Shine 81 -- Cruz 13, Lee 11, Chan 10, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 8, Quinahan 8, Tiu 5, Belga 5, Ibanes 4, Matias 3, Arana 3, Tang 3
Quarter scores: 24-15, 51-39, 71-58, 87-81