Bowles catches fire to lead Purefoods to game 1 semis win
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Denzel Bowles could not miss from anywhere inside the arc and erupted for a career-high 49 points as he carried the Purefoods Start Hotshots to a 100-94 victory over the gritty Talk ’N Text Tropang Texters in game 1 of the best-of-5 semifinals in the 2015 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday, April 1 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“Denzel had such an awesome first half,” said head coach Tim Cone of his import, who dropped 29 points in the first half alone as Purefoods took a 51-36 halftime edge.
“But we were saying at halftime that we can’t get too Denzel-reliant and we did. We got Denzel-reliant. We stopped moving, we started giving him the ball, standing around and watching him take shots.”
Bowles, who also had 10 rebounds and 5 assists, was on target from the get-go, going 14-of-18 from the field and went on to finish 23-of-36 for a whopping 64% shooting clip.
“We gotta figure out a way to get ourselves involved and not just watch Denzel shoot,” Cone added.
James Yap went 6-of-12 all night for his 18 points and a +17 plus/minus rating during his almost 28 minutes on the floor. Alex Mallari and Marc Pingris chipped in 8 and 6 markers, respectively. Mallari also tallied 10 assists.
Talk ’N Text import Ivan Johnson finished with 33 points and 8 rebounds, and scored just 5 points for the entire first half. But he came alive in the second half, leading the Texters’ barrage with 16 and 12 points in each of the last two periods.
Jayson Castro contributed 19 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists while Ranidel de Ocampo had 15 markers and 13 boards.
The Hotshots held its largest lead of 62-41 early in the second half before the Texters came charging right back and came to within 84-83 on a De Ocampo corner triple with 8:38 left in the game.
Talk ’N Text would never get a taste of the lead, however, as Purefoods responded by going to their most reliable man on the floor Bowles, who pulled up and knocked down a jumper while James Yap freed himself underneath for the reverse to make it 88-83 with 8:20 on the clock.
Just as Talk ’N Text was knocking on Purefoods’ door once again, Bowles came through with a chance for a three-point play with 4:05 remaining, but he missed the bonus and the Hotshots led 92-85.
Rookie Matt Ganuelas-Rosser cashed in on a couple of free throws to keep the Texters within 4-point distance, but Yap came charging down the lane for the two points and a 95-89 cushion heading into the final minute.
Mark Barroca, who had just 4 points and 5 assists, delivered the dagger of the night on a miracle no-look shot, 97-89, with 47.5 left after Bowles backboarded a three-point attempt.
“We played a flawless first half, we spent so much energy in that first half and we lost that energy for the second,” Cone noted.
The winningest PBA coach admitted losing Pingris midway in the third period left the door wide open for Talk ’N Text.
“He’s so crucial to all of our match-ups defensively. Once he left the floor we were scrambling, trying to figure out how to match-up to them.”
The defensive ace was initially diagnosed with a sprained left ankle after he collided with Joe Devance on a play. He was not allowed to return to the game by the team’s trainers, Cone said.
Cone is hopeful his starter will be ready for action come game 2 on Monday, April 6, expressing concern that Pingris’ absence is detrimental to the team’s chances in this series.
“A big part of this series is Ping’s health. If Ping’s healthy we have a shot at this. If he’s not it’s gonna be a real struggle for us.”
PUREFOODS (100) - Bowles 49, Yap 18, Mallari 8, Pingris 6, Simon 5, Barroca 4, Melton 3, Devance 3, Reavis 2, Maliksi 2, Pennisi 0.
TALK N' TEXT (94) - Johnson 33, Castro 19, De Ocampo 15, Alas 9, Fonacier 9, Rosser 7, Washington 2, Williams 0, Seigle 0, Aban 0.
Quarters: 33-17, 51-36, 81-70, 100-94