IMPORT Richard Howell said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black’s ejection late in the third quarter was the cue he needed to take over the game just as San Miguel Beer was in the middle of a late rally on Friday night.
The hulking Howell scored 14 of his game-high 38 points in the final period, combining with Jimmy Alapag in a fourth-quarter stand that led the Tropang Texters to a 107-99 win over the Beermen and the solo lead in the PBA Commissioner's Cup.
“I ‘was (surprised that Black got ejected for two technical fouls)," said Howell, who also hauled down 20 rebounds. "I feel like in the States, they warn you before giving you a technical but they don’t do that here (in the PBA), but we came out with a W (win).”
Howell said he was glad that Black "has got my back" during a controversial play late in the third quarter when he clearly got all ball while slapping the ball away from Doug Kramer - only to be called for a foul.
Black, who was called for successive technicals for protesting the call, said it was his first ejection in a 28-year career as, first, a playing-coach and then head coach, adding "I wasn't even sure if I deserved it."
However, the former North Carolina State forward said he didn't entirely escape blame.
“Coach Norman, he apologized (to the team after the game) but it wasn’t all on him. He kinda blamed it on me, saying he got that technical because I reached in,” the import said with a laugh after the game.
“But it was definitely all ball and that is why I felt like he (Black) was going for my back,” said the 23-year-old Talk ‘N Text reinforcement.