DESPITE missing injured center June Mar Fajardo for the second straight time, Petron Blaze stood strong to whip defending champion Talk ‘N Text, 105-91, and cement its hold of the No. 2 spot in the PLDT myDSL-PBA Philippine Cup on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
After a frustrating first half that saw the Boosters trail by as many as 10 points, Petron went to work in the third period behind Marcio Lassiter and Alex Cabagnot’s red-hot shooting as they outscored the Texters, 31-12, to put the game under control.
Making matters worse for Talk ‘N Text was its frigid 3-of-23 field goal shooting in the third canto, allowing Petron to take a comfortable 76-64 lead entering the final period on the way to snapping a two-game losing skid and improving to 8-2 overall.
On the other hand, the Texters saw their three-game winning streak come to an end, dropping to a tie at third spot with the idle Rain or Shine E-Painters at 6-3.
“We started slow but we picked it up in the second half. We just want to be aggressive and continue playing defense, that got us (back) in (the game),” said Lassiter, who finished with 22 points, spiked by three triples to earn Best Player of the Game honors.
Petron coach Gee Abanilla commended his players for coming out with a strong defensive effort in the second half, which allowed them to turn the table against the three-time defending champions.
“I think we played a better defensive job in the second half because in the first half, we allowed them (Texters) to score a lot of three-point shots, especially Larry Fonacier. But we rotated pretty well on defense,” said Abanilla, whose team drew another splendid effort from Doug Kramer, Fajardo’s chief backup in the middle.
The undersized Kramer finished with a near double-double of eight points and 10 rebounds, while sophomore center Yousef Taha, who is third in the team’s depth chart, added six and four rebounds.
Jason Castro led Talk ‘N Text with 23 points, while Fonacier added 19. Ranidel de Ocampo chipped in 12 and 11 rebounds.
PETRON (105) -- Lassiter 22, Santos 19, Lutz 16, Cabagnot 12, Tubid 8, Kramer 8, Taha 6, Deutchman 6, Lanete 4, Duncil 2, Ross 2.
TALK N' TEXT (91) -- Castro 23, Fonacier 19, De Ocampo 12, Seigle 10, Reyes J. 7, Baclao 4, Poligrates 4, Carey 4, Aban 2, Williams 2, Anthony 2, Alapag 2, Celiz 0.
Quarterscores: 17-27; 45-52; 76-64;105-91.