TALK ‘N Text survived a poor shooting and turnover-plagued fourth quarter to turn back a fighting Barako Bull side, 79-76 on Wednesday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Held to just 11 points in the final period, the Tropang Texters blew an early 11-point lead after committing a series of turnovers and shooting poorly in a long stretch that allowed the Energy Cola to level the count at 76-all behind Doug Kramer’s nine-point cluster.
But Jayson Castro nailed a big corner three-point shot off a feed from Jimmy Alapag with 1:27 to play. And with both squads failing to buy a basket in the succeeding possessions, the Tropang Texters went on to book their fifth straight win this conference to remain the season's only unbeaten side.
Actually, the Energy Cola had several chances to at least send the game into overtime, but Roger Yap and Josh Uzbintondo failed to convert their three-point attempts in the waning seconds of the match, sealing their third defeat in five games. Barako Bull is now tied with idle Petron Blaze and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel with 2-3 records apiece.
“(Barako Bull) Coach Junel (Baculi) did a good job scouting us and coming up with a sound game plan against us. They did a great job on taking advantage of us particularly in the post. I think in the end, we had to rely on our defense,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black, whose team shot just 40.7 percent in the game (33-of-81).
The game marked by eight deadlocks and 23 lead changes was a testament to the Energy Cola’s preparedness coming into their matchup, said Black.
Nevertheless, Black said the Tropang Texters still need to improve their chemistry and communication.
“I think we need to do a good job on our blending and communication. Sometimes, our play gets broken down because we don’t communicate well. But in the meantime, like I said, we want to put as many wins as we can on the board,” said Black.
At 5-0 and being the lone unbeaten team this conference, Black said their goal is to be at the top at the end of the elimination.
“We’re just trying to win the games, though I’m aware we’re 5-0. But at least in my experience in PBA, the easiest round in the PBA is when you’re in the top spot, because when you’re on the top spot, you play less games. We hope we could stay healthy,” said the Talk ‘N Text mentor, who succeeded Chot Reyes.
Castro led the Tropang Texters with 15 points, while Larry Fonacier and Ali Peek added 13 and 10 apiece.
Enrico Villanueva led the Energy Cola with 16 points and seven rebounds, while Kramer added 15.
Urbiztondo, who has been leading the team in scoring for the past games, was held down to just two points on a woeful 1-of-10 shooting.
Talk ‘N Text 79 - Castro 15, Fonacier 13, Peek 10, De Ocampo 9, Reyes 8, Williams 7, Alapag 6, Gamalinda 4, Carey 3, Dillinger 2, Ferriols 2
Barako Bull 76 -Villanueva 16, Kramer 15, Anthony 12, Tubid 12, Ballesteros 6, Pennisi 6, Najorda 5, Urbiztondo 2, Yap 2, Cervantes 0
Quarter scores: 17-18, 46-45, 68-61, 79-76