RYAN Reyes buried the go-ahead three-pointer while Alaska swingman Tony dela Cruz took a hurried jump shot with time winding down as Talk ‘N Text took Game One, 66-65, in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.
The sweet-shooting Reyes managed to bury the basket from beyond the arc with time down to 37.3 ticks and with two seconds left on the shotclock after Jayson Castro’s kick out pass. Castro earlier tried to drive down the lane but found his way jammed by the defense of Cyrus Baguio and dela Cruz.
In the ensuing play, JV Casio was stopped on a drive and forced to kick the ball out to dela Cruz, who made a quick attempt from 15 feet, and missed badly.
“It’s a very difficult win for us. But I’m very happy because we were able to grind it out. It’s been a defensive struggle, that’s normally what happens in the playoffs. Ryan made a huge shot for us,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black, whose team shot a frigid 29.7 percent (22-of-74) in the series opener.
Black gave credit to the Aces for slowing down the tempo, particularly in the second half, while forcing them to take numerous bad attempts inside and out.
“They slowed us down obviously. But I’m quite happy we played physically and happy with the way we played defense,” he added.
Alaska shot slightly better at 36.8 percent (28-of-76) as it rode on the all-out performances of center Sonny Thoss and rookie Calvin Abueva.
The 6-7 Thoss outplayed Talk ‘N Text bruiser Ranidel de Ocampo in the post, finishing with 14 points and 14 rebounds in 35 minutes. Abueva, who logged a conference-high 41 minutes, finished with 10 points and 17 rebounds in another monster game.
Despite the loss, Alaska coach Luigi Trillo said the closeness of the game gave him hope that they have what it takes to beat a powerhouse squad like the Tropang Texters.
“Overall, it gives me hope. This (Talk ‘N Text) is a team that you would want to idolize. You look at them, they won four championships in the last three years. We’ve got some veterans and some rookies. We just have to work our way because this thing is not over," he said.
“We know it’s not gonna be four or five games. If we have a chance, it boils down to Game Six or Game Seven. We just have to go back and regroup.”
Castro, one of the smallest players on the court, led the Tropang Texters with 17 points and conference-high 11 rebounds, while de Ocampo finished with 11 and six boards.
Talk ‘N Text 66 - Castro 17, De Ocampo 11, Fonacier 8, Carey 8, Alapag 8, Reyes 7, Dillinger 3, Williams 2, Peek 2, Gamalinda 0, Aban 0
Alaska 65 - Thoss 14, Jazul 11, Abueva 10, Baguio 8, Espinas 7, Casio 6, Hontiveros 5, Baracael 2, Dela Cruz 2, Belasco 0
Quarterscores: 17-11, 34-28, 47-50, 66-65