RELYING on its tenacious defense in the second half, two-time champion Talk ‘N Text maintained its hold on the top spot after whipping a listless Petron Blaze squad, 92-82 on Wednesday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The win was a huge bounce-back game for the Tropang Texters, who are coming off a heartbreaking 92-94 loss to the Alaska Aces after opening the season with six successive wins.
“We had a much better second half than first half. We just basically came out strong on defense. We did a good job controlling the defensive boards as well which led to some easy baskets on the other end,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black.
Black’s team improves to a league-best 7-1, while Petron, still struggling under rookie coach Olsen Racela, suffered its second straight defeat as it fell to 3-5 overall.
Though the Boosters had more fastbreak points, 19-2, the Tropang Texters played with a greater sense of urgency.
Larry Fonacier typified Talk ‘N Text’s strong second-half resolve, firing two huge triples in a searing fourth-quarter assault en route to a game-high 21 points, on top of six rebounds and four assists.
The Tropang Texters’ good ball movement enabled their outside snipers to score better from beyond the arc, finishing the game with 12-of-23 for a high 52.2 percent clip.
The Boosters, ravaged by injuries to big men June Mar Fajardo, Danny Ildefonso, and most recently, Dorian Pena (knee), fought valiantly till the late stages of the third period, trailing by just four at 60-64.
But the Tropang Texters hit their stride from there, with Kelly Williams and Jimmy Alapag joining Fonacier in hitting the big baskets from the perimeter that deflated the confidence of the Boosters.
Compounding the woes for the Boosters was the anemic performance of ace playmaker Alex Cabagnot, who only scored four points to go with four rebounds and five assists in 35 minutes of action.
Williams and Ranidel de Ocampo finished the game with 16 and 14 points, respectively, while Alapag added 13, four rebounds and five assists.
The Boosters, who were also left without an ill Marcio Lassiter, drew 18 points from Chris Lutz, while Arwind Santos and Jay Washington added 17 and 16.
Talk ‘N Text 92 - Fonacier 21, Williams 16, De Ocampo 14, Alapag 13, Aban 9, Carey 6, Castro 5, Ferriols 4, Alvarez 2, Peek 2, Raymundo 0, Gamalinda 0
Petron 82 - Lutz 18, Santos 17, Washington 16, Yeo 10, Duncil 7, Miranda 6, Faundo 4, Cabagnot 4
Quarterscores: 17-23, 43-42, 69-60, 92-82