DENZEL Bowles was super for Purefoods Star from start to finish while James Yap and Mark Barroca stepped up big late as the Hotshots clipped Talk ‘N Text, 100-94, in Game One of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Bowles banged in a new PBA career-high 49 points - 10 more than his previous best - as he found a way to score against any defense thrown at him by Talk ‘N Text. He made 23 of 36 shots and also hauled down 10 rebounds as Purefoods drew first blood in the best-of-five series.
After Purefoods defensive ace Marc Pingris went down with a sprained left ankle midway through the third quarter, Talk ‘N Text cut a 21-point deficit to just three at 85-88 on a basket by import Ivan Johnson.
However, Yap and Barroca were there to save the day.
The 6-2 Yap scored five of his 18 points in the last quarter, including an unmolested drive to the basket, while Mark Barroca threw a Hail Mary shot just as the shot clock was about to expire to give the Hotshots some breathing space, 97-89, with 47 seconds to go.
“Denzel had an awesome first half, but we kept saying in the first half that we can’t be too Denzel-reliant. Then we’ve got to have more discipline on that and execute because if we do that, it would be easier for Denzel,” said Cone, whose team has gone 4-0 in past playoff series against Talk ‘N Text since he took over the coaching reins in 2012.
The American coach said the Holy Week break could hopefully give Pingris enough time to recover from his injury.
The 6-foot-5 Pingris, who was designated to defend Johnson, accidentally stepped on the foot of teammate Joe Devance as they were heading back on defense with still 6:54 to go in the third canto.
He was substituted never to return again.
Bowles’ 49 points eclipsed his previous PBA career-high of 39 points, which he registered in Game Seven of the 2012 Commissioner’s Cup Finals the Hotshots (then known as B-meg) won, 4-3, incidentally against the same Talk ‘N Text team.
Johnson exploded for 29 of his 33 points in the second half to lead Talk ‘N Text, while Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo chipped in 19 and 15, respecrtively.
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.
Quarterscores: 33-17, 51-36, 81-70, 100-94