JASON Castro redeemed himself from a poor shooting night, scoring four of Talk ‘N Text’s last eight points to lead the Tropang Texters to a pulsating 89-86 victory over Rain or Shine in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The cat-quick Castro struggled against Rain or Shine’s highly physical defense but was on target late, scoring on a driving layup off Gabe Norwood before adding a difficult jumper in tight traffic with 5.2 seconds left to give Talk ‘N Text a three-point lead.
Rain or Shine still had one last chance to send the game to overtime, but Chris Tiu’s desperation three-point attempt failed to hit the mark, allowing Talk ‘N Text to escape with its seventh successive win over the Elasto Painters going back to last year's Commissioner's Cup.
“We got really some work at hand because I thought the first conference was a learning process, but it seems like we’re starting the first conference again with the way we‘re playing,” Talk ‘N Text coach Jong Uichico said.
The Tropang Texters fell behind, 78-71 during the first five minutes of the fourth period after lapsing into a maze of turnovers.
Worse, import Rich Howell ran into early foul trouble in the third period, leaving the Tropang Texters without a legitimate scoring threat in the paint.
The 6-7 Howell, however, came back strong in the final six minutes of the fourth period, scoring seven of his 13 points while grabbing crucial defensive rebounds late in the game to help preserve Talk ‘N Text’s victory.
Castro led the Tropang Texters with 15 points while Ranidel de Ocampo added 14 and 11 boards.
New boy Willie Miller came back from a one-conference absence in the PBA to contribute 10 points off the bench for Talk ‘N Text.
Import Rick Jackson led Rain or Shine with 30 points and 10 rebounds, while guards Jonathan Uyloan and Paul Lee chipped in 11 and 10 points, respectively.