JASON Castro bailed out Talk 'N Text by scoring 10 of the team’s last 13 points in a thrilling 105-99 win over Meralco and get its PBA Governors Cup campaign going on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the Texters trailing, 92-97, following Cliff Hodge’s seven straight points, Castro scored on a three-point play then followed a Ranidel de Ocampo’s layup with a cold-blooded three-pointer in the face of Meralco import Terrence Williams to turn the game around, 100-97.
Jared Dillinger answered with a short jumper to slash Meralco’s lead to one point, but Castro drained four straight free throws to go with a crucial rebound off a Sunday Salvacion miss to give Talk 'N Text a timely tonic after its loss to San Mig in the last Commissioner's Cup Finals.
“It was a good way to start the third conference,” said Tropang Texters coach Norman Black. “I told the players that the best way to get back the groove is to get a win today and put the Finals behind us. The players came out and responded today and played very well.”
Import Othyus Jeffers, the 2014 NBA D-League co-MVP, debuted with 38 points, 13 rebounds and two steals, providing the energy on both ends of the floor for the Tropang Texters.
Ranidel de Ocampo added 22 points and six boards while Castro, the Commissioner’s Cup Best Player, chipped in 21 and six assists in a balanced scoring attack.
Black admitted that it took the team some time to regain its confidence, especially since the Texters barely had a week to recover from that 3-1 Finals series loss to the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers.
“We’re also going up against good teams. We’re not head and shoulders above other teams so you’re gonna expect them to have great runs,” said Black.
“We’re coming off a Finals loss so you expect a problem in confidence and it takes a while to get them back to the groove.”
The Bolts showed their resilience by battling back from a 13-point deficit in the second half behind Hodge, Williams and Gary David.
But Meralco simply failed to contain Castro in the end as the Bolts dropped to 0-2 this conference.
Hodge led the Bolts with 24 points, 11 rebounds and four blocks.
Williams, the New Jersey Nets’ 11th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft, added 20 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists, coming out with a better all-around game that, nonetheless, went for naught.
Talk 'N Text 105 - Jeffers 38, De Ocampo 22, Castro 21, Carey 7, Fonacier 6, Williams 4, Alapag 3, Seigle 2, Canaleta 2, Reyes Ryan 0, Reyes Rob 0, Baclao 0.
Meralco 99 - Hodge 24, Williams 20, David 15, Hugnatan 12, Dillinger 12, Salvacion 6, Ildefonso 4, Bringas 2, Sena 2, Wilson 2, Timberlake 0.
Quarterscores: 26-19, 50-43, 75-72,105-99