Talk ‘N Text lives to fight another day, forces Game 5
MANILA, Philippines – The San Mig Coffee Mixers were intent on sending the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters packing for a second straight conference. And after James Yap delivered on his clutch reputation once again, it seemed as if that’s what would happen on Wednesday night.
But the Tropang Texters responded like championship contenders and lived to fight another day by the end of Game 4.
Behind 22 points and 13 rebounds from a banged-up Paul Harris, Talk ‘N Text outlasted San Mig Coffee, 84-81, on June 25, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum to force a Game 5 on Friday night.
“We did what we had to do which is to fight another day. It all comes down to Friday,” said TNT head coach Norman Black after the game. “Right now it's just all about who's got something left in the tank come Friday,” he later noted.
Entering the fourth period, San Mig Coffee had a slim, one-point lead.
Larry Fonacier, who had struggled earlier with his long-range shooting, knocked down two quick threes, which spearheaded the Texters’ rally. Moments later, an easy wide-open lay-up by Jimmy Alapag extended his squad’s lead to seven, 67-60, and forced Coach Tim Cone to call his third straight time-out four minutes into the quarter.
With a little under three minutes to go and the Texters clinging on a three-point edge, a broken play led to a tough Marqus Blakely lay-up, making the count 71-70. In the ensuing possessions, missed shots by Jayson Castro and PJ Simon kept the contest a one-point game with 1:40 to go.
Following Black’s time-out, a post entry to Danny Seigle attracted a double-team that got Castro open from long-range, which he made with ease, 74-70. Blakely answered to get his club within two, and the Mixers got the ball back following a 24-second violation by the Tropang Texters.
With 3.9 seconds remaining and the game on the line, Yap added another big shot to his collection. A runner by the two-time MVP trickled in just in the nick of time to tie the match at 74 and extend to overtime.
After Marc Pingris scored first in OT, five quick markers by Ranidel De Ocampo and Kelly Williams placed TNT back up by three. Simon kept the game within reach thanks to a three, but a breakaway lay-in by Fonacier moments later made it a four-point affair.
SMC would not come back from the deficit, and now risks losing their championship reign after getting a 2-0 series lead.
“The reason I'm using a longer rotation is because I used a shorter rotation the first two games and we lost,” Blake added after the game.
“We stuck together in overtime and got the victory. It’s a big win for Talk ‘N Text and we’re looking forward to the game on Friday.” Black also mentioned.
Despite Harris missing five of his first six 3-ball attempts, Talk ‘N Text was the team to unfurl an early lead as a couple of easy breakaway buckets by Castro spearheaded his team to a 19-10 lead.
SMC’s offense was tentative in the first quarter, but things would change as Yap caught fire by finding lapses in TNT’s zone defense. Three consecutive jumpers – the latter two three-pointers – propelled an 8-0 run by the veteran to cut the Texters’ lead to one.
Yap led the Mixers by totaling 23 points.
By the end of the first quarter, Coach Norman Black and his boys were ahead by three, 22-19.
Towards the end of the second quarter, a post move by Blakely resulted to a cut on Harris’ left cheek thanks to an elbow. While TNT’s import was forced to watch the remainder of the half from the bench, the Texters couldn’t respond to Yap and SMC’s hot shooting, as the defending champions took a four-point lead into intermission.
The game’s theme stayed physical in the early moments of the third quarter, as Pingris and Rob Reyes got entangled under SMC’s hoop. Nonetheless, the pace favored the Mixers, which used their height advantage to collect numerous offensive rebounds and second-chance opportunities.
TNT would regain the lead later after a trey to put them up 52-51, but was quickly countered by Mark Barroca’s floater. - Rappler.com
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