TALK ‘N Text saved its best for last, outgunning Alaska in the payoff period on the way to a resounding 83-78 win to earn a third straight trip to the PBA Philippine Cup Finals Friday night at the Astrodome.
The defending champions’ huge Game 6 victory clinched for them the best-of-seven semis series, 4-2, and set them up for a titular showdown with early finalist Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
Game One of the best-of-seven championship series will be on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Game time is at 6:45 p.m.
This will be Talk `N Text’s sixth Finals appearance in the last seven conferences.
Diminutive playmaker Jimmy Alapag overcame a silent first two quarters as he exploded for 15 points in the second half, spiked with three triples that allowed the Tropang Texters to gain enough breathing room against a pesky Aces side.
Winning coach Norman Black paid tribute to Alaska’s gallant stand, saying the Aces’ resiliency made them a team that’s tough nut to crack.
“First of all, I want to give some applause for Alaska. They have grown leaps and bounds this conference. They prove they can be tough to beat in the future. Their perimeter shooting and inside game makes them tough to beat,” said Black after the game.
The soft-spoken Black, appearing in his 15th PBA Finals stint but first in more than a decade, also paid tribute to his players for displaying championship poise despite the Aces’ late-game charge.
“It’s good to be back in the championship, but it’s not just about me and the coaching staff. I have good players. They work hard in practice. Now our goal is to try to win it,” he added.
Black is in his first conference back since his last PBA tour of duty in 2002. But his last Finals appearance came in the 2001 Governors Cup when he led Sta. Lucia to its breakthrough title behind Best Import Damian Owens.
Jayson Castro led the Tropang Texters with 16 points, while three other Talk ‘N Text players in Kelly Williams, Jared Dillinger, and Ranidel de Ocampo all finished with 11 points apiece.
Alaska’s energetic rookie Calvin Abueva led the Aces with another double-double of 23 points and 13 rebounds as played out a foul-plagued Game 6.
The Aces sorely missed the offense of top gunner Cyrus Baguio, who finished with a quiet three points on a poor 1-of-9 shooting from the field.
Talk ‘N Text (83) -- Castro 16, Alapag 15, Dillinger 11, Williams 11, De Ocampo 11, Carey 6, Fonacier 5, Peek 5, Reyes 3, Raymundo 0, Aban 0.
Alaska (78) --Abueva 23, Espinas 13, Thoss 11, Casio 10, Hontiveros 7, Baracael 6, Jazul 5, Baguio 3, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 25-18; 42-41; 64-62; 83-78.