MANILA, Philippines - Talk n Text outfought Petron Blaze in the clutch with a relentless effort on both ends, hacking out a 95-82 win to clinch top spot in the elimination round of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum last night.
The Tropang Texters started a bit flat but finished with a flurry, guaranteeing themselves with top seeding in the playoffs with an 11-2 win-loss card.
Jayson Castro, Ryan Reyes, Ranidel de Ocampo, Kelly Williams and Jimmy Alapag scored heavily in the homestretch, outplaying Arwind Santos and his teammates as Talk n Text stretched to eight games its domination of Petron in their head-on duels.
The Texters held the Boosters scoreless in the last 3:02 of play, dealing coach Olsen Racela and his troops a seventh loss against six wins.
“It’s a big win, obviously, as it guaranteed us first place in the elims. It was a great team effort. We played a balanced game and played tenacious defense at the finish,” said Talk n Text coach Norman Black.
Earlier, prized rookie Calvin Abueva, who has just recovered from a nasal infection, provided Alaska Milk the needed shot in the arm as the Aces arrested a four-game slide with an 88-85 win over the Meralco Bolts.
Abueva proved to be a tremendous presence though coming from a three-game hospital confinement, unraveling career bests of 20 points and 18 rebounds as the Aces outfought the Bolts and enhanced their quarterfinals bid with a sixth win against the same number of losses.
“He’s getting the welcoming thing for the rookies in the PBA. He’s being hit but he’s a warrior,” said Alaska coach Luigi Trillo of Abueva.
“He’s all over the place. He brings out tremendous energy for us. There’s a misconception that he’s a dirty player. But he’s not. He just wants to win and you can see what he brings in,” Trillo added.
“I’m just doing my best. My team wants to make the best-of-three quarters and I want to help my team achieve it,” Abueva said.
Abueva improved his previous best of 16 rebounds. The last one that he got off the defensive board in the last 12.7 seconds all but clinched Alaska’s first win ever over Meralco.
The Bolts won all their three showdowns with the Aces last year.
The Aces drew level with the Bolts at 6-6 in this season-opening all-Filipino tourney, two games in front of eighth-running Air21 Express (4-8). Alaska and Meralco are both assured of a playoff for the last quarters seat.
Cyrus Baguio, Jayvee Casio and Mac Baracael provided the finishing touches as the Aces regrouped after squandering a nine-point halftime lead, 43-34.
Casio and Baracael scored back-to-back treys then Baguio glided past Mark Borboran in an acrobatic drive pushing the Aces ahead to stay at 87-82, entering the final minute.
Baguio and Baracael wound up with 19 and 12 points, respectively, with Casio adding nine markers, three rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Mark Cardona and Chris Ross topscored for the losing team with 14 points apiece. In the course of the game, Cardona became the 65th player to hit the 5,000-point plateau – the second after James Yap from the 2004 rookie batch.
Abueva stood out with a hulking performance in his comeback from a layoff following a hit on the face by Air21’s Rob Reyes. The former San Sebastian standout missed their last game against Ginebra.
The 6-foot-1 Pampanga native went 7-of-16 from the field and 6-of-8 from the stripe to surpass his previous best of 19 markers.