Ildefonso tows Petron to win over TNT
MANILA, Philippines -- Former PBA most valuable player Danny Ildefonso turned back the clock with a vintage performance to lead the Petron Blaze Boosters past the Talk N Text Tropang Texters, 85-82, in Game 4 of their semi-finals match-up of the PBA Philippine Cup Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
Ildefonso scored 22 points -- his highest output in four years -- on an efficient 11-of-14 shooting clip, along with 8 rebounds and 4 assists to lead Petron to a 3-1 series lead in their best-of-seven showdown.
He also drained the go-ahead jumper with 55.7 seconds left to give the Boosters the lead for good, 83-82.
Talk N Text failed to send the game to overtime after Ranidel de Ocampo and Jimmy Alapag both misfired on their three-point attempts.
"I have to give it to to the boys. They matched up Talk N Text's energy, and they showed poise and composure at crunch time," Petron head coach Ato Agustin told PBA.ph.
Ildefonso's scoring outburst came at the perfect time for Petron, as Arwind Santos struggled and finished with only 7 points and 2 rebounds, his lowest output in both statistics this conference.
It was another come-from-behind game for Petron as the Texters led by as much as 10 points in the third quarter. Ryan Reyes, who committed a crucial defensive error in Game 3, stepped up for Talk N Text by scoring 11 points in the first half alone. He would finish with 17 to lead the Texters.
Alex Cabagnot once again struggled with his shooting, making only 3 of 10 field goal attempts, but he made up for it with 10 assists and 6 boards.
Joseph Yeo and Chris Lutz picked up the scoring cudgels, tallying 13 points each. Lutz put his mark on the game with a hustle play in the final 10 seconds, controlling a loose ball and forcing the Texters to give up a foul, allowing Lutz to ice the game from the stripe.
The Boosters have a chance to close out the series on Friday.
"The chance to make the finals is now in our hands, we'll do our best not to let it slip away," Ildefonso said.
But Talk N Text head coach Chot Reyes is not giving up, despite a 1-3 series deficit.
"The series is closer than the score. We lost the last three games by seven, and that gives us hope," he said.
Petron lost the series opener but went on to win the next three games, albeit by an average winning margin of 2.3 points.
The Texters will have to make adjustments anew after seeing another player step up for Petron to make-up for the subpar games of Cabagnot and Santos.
"We held down both Arwind and Cabagnot, but Danny Ildefonso stepped up," Reyes said. "That's a mark of a good team. They're making the big shots that count. That's the story."
PETRON 85 - Ildefonso 22, Lutz 13, Yeo 13, Cabagnot 8, Santos 7, Reyes 6, Sharma 6, Miranda 5,
Tugade 3, Baclao 2.
TALK N' TEXT 82 - Reyes 17, De Ocampo 15, Castro 13, Dillinger 9, Peek 9, Fonacier 6, Williams 5,
Carey 4, Alapag 3, Aguilar 1.
Quarters: 22-23, 38-44, 60-66, 85-82