TALK ‘N Text endured the loss of import Richard Howell in the entire second half as it outlasted Rain or Shine, 85-82 to move within a win of sweeping the single-round eliminations of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Texters played with a greater sense of urgency despite missing Howell, who landed awkwardly on his right shoulder while trying to go hard for a layup against Paul Lee late in the second period.
Howell eventually left the Big Dome before the start of the third quarter to undergo an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) at the Makati Medical Center to determine the severity of his injury.
Despite the absence of the 6-8 NBA D-League veteran, the Tropang Texters took leads of as many as 16 points in the second half behind Larry Fonacier, Kelly Williams and Jason Castro.
The Elasto Painters managed to close in at 82-84 on a long three-point bomb by Paul Lee, but Rain or Shine import Wayne Chism lost the handle of the ball while trying to go for a rebound off Jimmy Alapag’s missed foul throw, giving Talk ‘N Text possession with less than 10 seconds left.
The Elasto Painters then sent Fonacier to the foul line in the ensuing play, but the former Ateneo gunner could only split his charities, giving Rain or Shine another chance to send the game into overtime with a three-point attempt.
However, Beau Belga’s fallaway three-point attempt though failed to miss the mark, allowing Talk ‘N Text to improve to a league-best 8-0 win-loss record and clinch the top seeding in the playoffs.
“I’m very glad to be able to survive this game, which turned out to be a very physical game,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black.
“I’m not too sure about my import, who had his MRI at the hospital. He came in contact with Paul Lee. We just have to wait and find out what happens after that,” he added.
Black said he hasn’t entertained thoughts of finding a standby import, pending the MRI result of Howell.
Meantime, the loss dropped Rain or Shine to 3-4 and a four-way tie for fifth to eight spots in the standings with Ginebra, Air21 and Meralco as the race to the playoffs heated up.
Nino Canaleta led the Tropang Texters with 19 points.
Howell scored two points but had nine rebounds during the first half.
Rain or Shine, which missed the services of coach Yeng Guiao who is on a business trip to Europe, drew 18 points and 10 rebounds from Chism but paid dearly for the boo-boo of the import in the endgame.
Talk 'N Text 85 - Canaleta 19, Williams 13, Seigle 12, Fonacier 11, Castro 8, De Ocampo 7, Carey 5, Alapag 5, Reyes 3, Howell 2, Reyes 0, Baclao 0.
Rain or Shine 82 - Chism 18, Belga 12, Lee 11, Tiu 8, Chan 7, Arana 6, Almazan 5, Norwood 5, Cruz 4, Rodriguez 4, Tang 2, Uyloan 0, Nuyles 0, Teng 0.
Quarterscores: 21-14, 36-37, 70-54, 85-82