MANILA, Philippines - Talk n Text regained its bearing after squandering an 18-point lead in the third quarter, outplaying Rain or Shine in the crunch and hacking out a 98-90 victory last night that kept the team alive going into the final playdate of the PBA Governors Cup semifinal round tomorrow.
Before a sizable Monday crowd at the Araneta Coliseum, the Tropang Texters survived a third straight do-or-die game and caught up with the Barangay Ginebra Kings at third place with 8-5 (win-loss) records.
With the loss, Rain or Shine dropped to a share of the lead with B-Meg at 9-4.
The semis comes down to a climactic ending tomorrow with the Elasto Painters and the Llamados disputing the first finals berth and the Texters and the Kings fight for a playoff for the second finals seat.
The winner in the Talk n Text-Ginebra setto will meet the loser in the match between Rain or Shine and B-Meg in a sudden death set Friday.
Paul Harris poured in a personal conference-best of 34 points and also logged 16 rebounds and five assists as the Texters stayed alive and remained in the hunt for a sixth straight finals appearance.
"It all started from Jimmy (Alapag) and Jason (Castro) in practice. They kept on saying 'we need you,'" said Harris.
"Harris doesn't want to go home. He doesn't want it to end," said Talk n Text coach Chot Reyes.
Despite the victory, the Texters were far from being merry.
"We'd like to be happy but unfortunately we cannot afford to be because there's going to be a very very big game on Wednesday," said Reyes.
"Ginebra is the most dangerous of them all. It's going to be tough," said Harris.
Ranidel de Ocampo, Alapag and Castro also did a good job, helping the Texters avenge a 90-92 loss to the Elasto Painters in their previous tiff in the season-ending tourney.
The Elasto Painters came from behind to win their initial encounter and threatened to do the same last night.
The Texters, however, recovered from their third-quarter meltdown, riding high on the exploits of Harris, Castro and Alapag at the finish to fend off the Elasto Painters.
Behind their torrid shooting early on, the Texters led by 17 twice at 48-31 and 50-33 before settling for a 57-44 spread at the half.
The Texters opened a double-digit spread right in the first half at 25-12 on a searing 23-5 run they unleashed coming back from a timeout just a little over two minutes into the game.
Ranidel de Ocampo sizzled with 14 points in the first half, including 10 straight from an 11-all count.
Larry Fonacier and Paul Harris also made a barrage of their own later on as the Texters dominated the game until the Elasto Painters picked up their game in the third period.
The Texters barely hung on to an 80-79 edge at the end of the third. A split from the stripe by JR Quinahan at the start of the final period forced the first deadlock in the game after the seven-all tie.