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    Talk 'N Text stays unbeaten as Alapag, Howell steady ship after Black ejection

    Mar 14, 2014
    San Miguel guard Marcio Lassiter holds on to the jersey of Talk 'N Text's Ryan Reyes in a bid to stop a fastbreak. Jerome Ascano

    JIMMY Alapag and Richard Howell combined to steady the Talk 'N Text ship following the ejection of coach Norman Black as the Tropang Texters held off San Miguel Beer, 107-99, to grab the solo lead in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    Howell, a double-double machine during his NBA D-League days with the Idaho Stampede, scored 11 of his team's first 15 points in the final period to open a 92-76 lead for the Texters while Alapag made sure the lead stood with a late barrage that ended an SMB rally.

    The duo's heroics allowed Talk 'N Text to remain unbeaten three games into its campaign in the mid-season conference despite the absence of Black, who was thrown out on successive technicals for complaining about a horror foul called on Howell late in the third quarter.

    “First of all, it’s very lonely in the locker room sitting there by yourself,” the mild-mannered coach said after the game, eliciting laughs from the media throng. “It’s my first time to get ejected in 28 years. I’m not even sure if I deserve it (getting ejected)."

    San Miguel, which fell to 2-1 (win-loss), trailed by as much as 19 points but got within 93-97 in the final two minutes behind Marcio Lassiter, Chris Lutz and new import Kevin Jones.

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    But Alapag took over from there, nailing a long three-point shot before adding four more free throws in the final 55 seconds to keep the Texters beyond reach.
     
    The Beermen, who jumped off to a 2-0 start with original import Josh Boone, got 35 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in a foul-plagued 40-minute performance from Jones.

    Reigning MVP Arwind Santos had a quiet nine points on a frigid 2-of-10 field goal shooting, while Philippine Cup Best Player June Mar Fajardo returned from a two-game absence due to ankle sprain to score seven points and nine rebounds.

    Howell led the Tropang Texters with a personal PBA career-best 38 points, to go along with 20 rebounds, five steals and four assists in a solid all-around game for the league-leading squad.

    Alapag added 18 and seven assists, while Ranidel de Ocampo chipped in 16.

    The scores:

    Talk 'N Text 107 - Howell 38, Alapag 18, De Ocampo 16, Castro 10, Fonacier 8, Canaleta 6, Reyes Ry. 5, Aban 3, Carey 2, Williams 1, Reyes Ro. 0, Baclao 0.

    San Miguel 99 - Jones 35, Hubalde 14, Lassiter 12, Lutz 9, Santos 9, Fajardo 7, Mercado 5, Kramer 4, Tubid 2, Ross 2, Maierhofer 0, Duncil 0.

    Quarterscores: 26-19, 51-38, 77-68, 107-99

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    San Miguel guard Marcio Lassiter holds on to the jersey of Talk 'N Text's Ryan Reyes in a bid to stop a fastbreak. Jerome Ascano
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