TALK `N Text’s vaunted defense went full throttle in the payoff period and stopped Petron on its track, 95-82, as the defending champions formally clinched the first twice-to-beat edge and No. 1 spot in the playoffs of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.
Held to a 66-66 standoff after three quarters, the Tropang Texters outscored the Boosters in the final quarter, 29-16, and limited the opposition scoreless in the final 3:19 of the highly-anticipated showdown between the league’s two powerhouse teams.
The Tropang Texters improved their league-best record to 11-2 overall as they assured themselves of the top spot and the twice-to-beat incentive that goes with it come the playoffs of the season-opening tournament.
“This is a big win for us obviously because it puts us in first place going into the next round,” said coach Norman Black.
“Of course, it doesn’t guarantee us anything because we still have to play in the quarterfinals but at least it gives us the first slot and gives us the twice-to-beat advantage which is what our goal is from the very beginning.”
Jayson Castro led the Tropang Texters with 23 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 7-of-8 clip from the foul line, while adding eight rebounds and five assists.
But it was Ryan Reyes and Ranidel De Ocampo who sparked the reigning champions’ fourth-quarter breakaway when they scored seven points in a 9-1 Talk `N Text run midway in the period to pull away for good, 89-82.
Until that scoring binge, Petron was only within 80-81 with 5:49 left after two free throws by Alex Cabagnot.
A basket by Arwind Santos underneath proved to be the Boosters' final basket of the game, 89-82, with 3:19 to go.
“I’m really happy with the way we played defense in the second half. I just asked the guys if we can convert into a very good defensive team. We’re still a very good offensive team, but if we focus on defense, no matter what happens, we have a good chance of winning the basketball game,” Black added.
In all, the Tropang Texters held Petron to just 36 percent shooting from the floor (27-of-75).
Santos had 22 points and 11 rebounds in a losing cause for the Boosters, who saw their three-game winning streak snapped and fell to 6-7 overall.
Talk N Text (95) – Castro 23, Williams 14, Reyes 12, Alapag 11, De Ocmapo 10, Peek 9, Dillinger 8, Fonacier 6, Carey 2, Aban 0, Alvarez 0.
Petron (82) – Santos 22, Cabagnot 17, Lassiter 12, Fajardo 7, Lutz 7, Yeo 5, Washington 5, Faundo 4, Miranda 3, Duncil 0.
Quarterscores: 15-18; 38-44; 66-66; 95-82.