RANIDEL de Ocampo buried a backbreaking three-point shot with 9.2 seconds left to lift Talk 'N Text to a heart-stopping 108-104 victory against a surprisingly tough Globalport five on Friday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
De Ocampo, a vital piece in Smart Gilas 2.0’s recent international stints, grabbed two crucial rebounds then converted the beyond-the-arc basket with the shot clock winding down to bail out the Texters after a big Globalport rally that gave Norman Black a huge scare on his debut as TnT coach.
Black, fresh from leading Ateneo to a fifth successive UAAP championship, did not plan to coach in the game and had let assistant Nash Racela call the shots, until Batang Pier came storming back from a 16-point deficit in the third quarter.
“I did not plan to coach hands-on tonight. But I guess the adrenaline and the juices started to flow. So at the end, I tried to take control more,” said Black, whose last PBA stint prior to succeeding Chot Reyes at Talk ‘N Text was in the 2002 season with the now defunct Sta. Lucia Realty.
Diminutive point guard Jason Castro ate up much of the playing minutes of Jimmy Alapag, who was slowly getting back into game shape after suffering an injury. And the former PCU Blue Dolphin star didn’t disappoint, scattering 11 of his game-high 30 points in the final period.
He strung up nine straight in a two-and-a-half-minute span, wiping out a three-point Globalport lead and pushing Talk ‘N Text to a 105-104 advantage, time down to 2:41.
From there, the Tropang Texters relied on defense, holding the 0-3 Batang Pier scoreless till the end of the buzzer while leaning on De Ocampo’s big three-point bomb to seal the team’s second straight win in as many games.
“Right now, it’s pretty much work in progress for me, because most of my concentration has been coaching and leading the team to the UAAP championship. We had a lot of miscommunications in our plays. But our focus is to get as many wins as possible,” said Black.
Globalport sorely missed the services of last season’s scoring champion Gary David, who is nursing a swollen left knee. Batang Pier coach Glen Capacio said their prized veteran star may need about a week of rest.
Without David, Willie Miller, who led the team with 22 points, got scoring support from rookie Vic Manuel who churned out a career-high 21 points on an impressive 10-of-13 shooting from the field.
Rabeh Al-Hussaini, back in action after being benched in the team’s loss to Air21 last week, added 17 points against a team coached by his former mentor at Ateneo.
Talk ‘N Text 108 – Castro 30, Reyes 19, Fonacier 19, De Ocampo 15, Williams 11, Alapag 5, Peek 4, Carey 3, Gamalinda 2, Raymundo 0, Alvarez 0
Globalport 104- Miller 22, Manuel 21, Al-Hussaini 17, Salvador 9, Vanlandingham 8, Deutchman 7, Guevara 6, Yee 6, Mandani 4, Antonio 2, Lingganay 0
Quarter scores: 32-31, 57-52, 86-74, 108-104