DEFENDING champion Talk ‘N Text showed tremendous championship poise in the face of Rain or Shine’s last-ditch fourth-quarter comeback to take Game One, 87-81 in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Larry Fonacier and Jason Castro, who each had a Finals MVP trophy between them, delivered the biggest baskets while the Elasto Painters were breathing down the Tropang Texters’ necks in the end game.
Trailing by as many as 17 points in the third canto, the Elasto Painters came alive in the fourth to close in at 76-79 on a 7-0 run with 3:15 left in the game.
Fonacier, however, connected on a cold-blooded three-pointer in the ensuing play. And while Jeff Chan managed to score on the other end, Castro used his quickness in the next ball possession to convert on a tough layup off the outstretched arms of Jervy Cruz.
By then, Rain or Shine was forced to take hurried attempts from the outside, even as Yeng Guiao’s boys committed two big turnovers in the final 1:30 of the game
“I was very happy with the way we played defense today. We had a lot of problems when they started using small lineup,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black. "Despite the fact that we’re up 1-0 now, this is where the fun begins."
All in all, Rain or Shine just shot four-of-21 from beyond the arc. Jeff Chan, the team’s top gunner, finished with just 10 points and went 0-of-4 shooting from the three-point zone.
“Coach Yeng will surely make the adjustments come Game Two. But it’s a good start for us," said Black, who is eyeing his 11th PBA title just months after leading Ateneo to a fifth successive UAAP title.
Guiao is now 0-4 (win-loss) against Talk 'N Text in the all-Filipino since taking over as Painters coach in 2011.
Both teams shot below 40 percent, a testament to what Black and Guiao had earlier said prior to the series that the Finals is going to be a defensive match-up.
But it was the defending champions who appeared to be more determined right from the get go as they jumped the gun on the Elasto Painters in the opening half.
The Tropang Texters scored 11 straight unanswered points in the opening period, and then went on a 14-0 run bridging the first and second quarters allowed them to put up their first sizeable advantage, 33-15.
Castro and big man Ranidel de Ocampo each had 16 points to lead the Tropang Texters on offense, while Jervy Cruz paced the Elasto Painters with 13 points and nine rebounds.
Talk ‘N Text (87) -- Castro 16, De Ocampo 16, Dillinger 13, Fonacier 9, Alapag 9, Peek 8, Williams 6, Raymundo 3, Reyes 3, Alvarez 2, Carey 2, Gamalinda 0, Aban 0, Ferriols 0
Rain or Shine (81) -- Cruz 13, Lee 11, Chan 10, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 8, Quinahan 8, Tiu 5, Belga 5, Ibanes 4, Matias 3, Tang 3, Arana 3.
Quarterscores: 24-15; 51-39; 71-58; 87-81.