Castro's buzzer beater lifts Talk 'N Text past NLEX
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) - They don't call him Asia's best point guard for nothing.
With the game tied at 96-all in the dying seconds of regulation, Talk 'N Text superstar Jayson Castro took matters into his own hands, burying a jumper as time expired to lift the Tropang Texters to a 98-96 victory over the NLEX Road Warriors on Friday, February 20, at the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Castro finished with 16 points and 4 rebounds to earn the Player of the Game honors, while former NBA player Ivan Johnson, who replaced former Best Import Richard Howell earlier this week, debuted with 32 points and 10 rebounds in 34 minutes.
Talk 'N Text rises to 5-1, good for second best record in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup.
“We were lucky to get through that game,” TNT head coach Jong Uichico commented after the game.
“We won the game, so okay na rin yun (that's okay), we won the game and we can go back and see why we didn’t handle the comeback very well.”
NLEX erased a 29-point deficit thanks mostly to import Al Thornton, who put up 37 points and 14 rebounds. Jonas Villanueva also played a critical role int he comeback and totaled 13 markers.
The Road Warriors chipped away slowly and precisely by attaining trips to the free throw line and forcing turnovers out of Talk ’N Text, whose performances in the first and second half were as different as night and day.
Overall, NLEX went 28-of-33 from the charity stripe. Thornton was 20-of-21.
“We didn’t do a good job of handling their comeback,” Uichico said twice.
NLEX used a 6-0 run to trim TNT’s lead to seven with just 2:30 to go. After free throws by Asi Taulava and Harold Arboleda trimmed the deficit to five, a steal and basket by Rudy Lingganay made the count 96-93.
TNT was unable to counter as rookie Kevin Alas missed on a triple that could have sealed the match. On the following pay, Thornton was fouled on a drive to the rim and subsequently made both FTs.
With just 14 seconds to go, TNT nearly turned the ball over but veteran Larry Fonacier was able to retain the leather - with help from a push that went uncalled by the referees - and proceeded to call a timeout.
However, the Texters had no more time-outs remaining, leading to a technical foul that gave NLEX a chance to tie the game at the foul line.
After Thornton did just that, Castro brought the ball down the floor and waited for the clock to dwindle. With just two seconds left, he leaped for a jumper and nailed the long jumper to close the match in style.
TNT shot 62% from the field in the first half - including 63% from downtown - which ended with them leading 65-40.
“We were missing shots and they were hitting their shots,” Taulava said about the first two quarters.
Overall, the Tropang Texters made 47% of their field goals, and went 13-of-30 from deep. NLEX converted only 39% of their attempts and was 6-of-29 from 3-point range.
NLEX won the rebounding battle, 57-35. They had 23 offensive boards that helped yield 17 second chance points. TNT took advantage of fastbreak opportunities, garnering 15 points.
Taulava had just 6 points on 2-of-7 shooting. Mark Cardona put up 9 points on 6 shots, but played just 22 minutes.
Ranidel De Ocampo also played well for the winning side, finishing with 13 points. Willie Miller came off the bench and contributed 9.
TALK N’ TEXT 98: Johnson 32, Castro 16, De Ocampo 13, Miller 9, Rosser 9, Carey 6, Aban 5, Alas 4, Fonacier 2, Reyes R.J. 2
NLEX 96: Thornton 37, Villanueva J. 13, Ramos 10, Cardona 9, Canaleta 8, Taulava 6, Arboleda H. 5, Villanueva E. 3, Baloria 3, Lingganay 2, Hermida 0, Arboleda W. 0, Borboran 0
Quarter Scores: 32-19, 65-40, 89-71, 98-96