MANILA, Philippines -- Talk 'N Text survived a slow start and a sputtering endgame to eke out a 99-95 win over Alaska and seize a 3-2 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal showdown last night at the MOA Arena.
It's a very competitive game and our guys bounced back from a poor performance in Game Four," said Tropang Texters coach Norman Black, referring to their letdown in the previous match that allowed the Aces to escape with a 104-99 triumph and tie the best-of-seven series at 2-2.
The defending titlist Tropang Texters will shoot for the clincher and their third straight finals appearance in the all-Pinoy tourney in Game Six on Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome.
"The goal and the task now is come back in Game Six and play good defense again," said Black.
Playing Pamboy Raymundo in place of Jimmy Alapag to start the game, the Tropang Texters found themselves facing a 2-10 deficit and were even behind going to the last 3:07 of the first canto, 12-20.
But Ryan Reyes (15 points) anchored an 8-0 windup as TnT got back into the groove and seized control, storming to a 12-point lead by halftime.
They were still up by nine, 97-88, going to the last 2:29 minutes, but the Aces made one final stand, holding Tnt without a fieldgoal from there to threaten to within 95-98, 36 ticks remaining.
A botched offensive by Alaska - Calvin Abueva losing the ball on a drive-in play - resulted in two charities for Jason Castro, who made only the front end for a 99-95 margin, 7.2 seconds left.
"Give Alaska credit - they make adjustments as the series goes on. They beat us in the elims and we knew right then that they're gonna be a tough assignment for us. I figured it's gonna be tough because they have a lot of young players, they have a lot of energy and they don't want to give up," said Black.
Both teams used a balanced scoring attack with seven finishing in double figures for TnT and six for Alaska.
Backstopping Reyes were Ranidel de Ocampo (13), Larry Fonacier (12), Jared Dillinger (11), Jimmy Alapag (11), Kelly Williams (10), and Harvey Carey (10) for TnT, which held the Aces to a 31-of-77 shooting (40.3 percent).
Abueva paced Alaska with 19 markers, 11 boards and three assists, but his crucial turnover in the endgame hastened the Aces' fall. Cyrus Baguio (14), Gabby Espinas (13), Mac Baracael (12), RJ Jazul (11), and Sonny Thoss (10) also churned in 10 points or more for Alaska.
Prior to the game, Black had complained against officiating but come game time, they were more focused on the business at hand - playing ball.
"Both teams concentrated on basketball, not worried about refs that much," he said.