TALK ‘N Text kept its composure in a highly-emotional match and whipped a disorganized Alaska side, 93-79, for a 2-1 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series at the Mall of Asia Arena on Wednesday night.
Kelly Williams banged in a season-high 23 points and grabbed nine rebounds, while Larry Fonacier added 21 as the defending champions endured the physical nature of Game Three that saw the Tropang Texters lose shooting guard Jayson Castro late in the game.
The player they called 'The Blur’ had to leave the match with about five minutes left to play after getting hit hard by a Cyrus Baguio forearm just as he was about to finish a fastbreak play.
Baguio was slapped with a flagrant foul penalty two, which meant an automatic ejection.
The Alaska shooting guard joined rookie Calvin Abueva in the Alaska dugout, as this year’s No.2 overall pick was earlier ejected for incurring a technical foul followed by a flagrant foul penalty one for tripping Harvey Carey during a dead ball situation.
“I wasn’t happy with the officiating in the last game, but we just have to keep playing. As much as possible, we just can’t lose focus as the series goes on. Certainly, I’m not happy with it (officiating),” admitted Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black, whose team took Game One, 66-65, before dropping Game Two, 88-100.
Though unsatisfied with the way officiating, Black said they will just have to keep focusing on their game plan and try to build on the momentum they now have after three games in the best-of-seven series.
“It’s important for our team to just keep our focus and keep playing. Outside of that (officiating), our defense was good today. We executed well today. I thought our guys executed well defensively. Kelly played well for us tonight,” he added.
Alaska coach Luigi Trillo admitted his team got completely outworked by Talk ‘N Text, though he also had something to say about the officiating.
“Cyrus is not known and… never had that background (playing dirty). He had a duty foul and it was the forearm that hit… I will be shocked if commissioner (Chito Salud) took out Cyrus in Game Four,” said a visibly disappointed Trillo during the post-game interview.
“James Yap hammered (Jireh) Ibanes before with an open palm … They can see that all they want (on tape) … If we’re following the rules and he’s (Salud) strict about that, it’s a forearm. He (Baguio) should play,” he added.
Tempers flared at the mid-point of the third period as Gabby Espinas came charging at Jared Dillinger following the hard foul committed by the Talk `N Text guard against Alaska big man Sonny Thoss.
Benches of both teams nearly emptied as they tried to help the referees separate Dillinger and Espinas, who exchanged words.
Dillinger and Thoss were both slapped with technical fouls for extra motion, though Espinas was given a technical foul and ejected out of the game.
Trillo vehemently contested the call on Espinas with the the three game officials, who later changed the call to flagrant foul penalty one.
Talk ‘N Text (93) -- Williams 23, Fonacier 21, De Ocampo 12, Carey 7, Dillinger 6, Castro 6, Reyes 5, Alapag 4, Peek 4, Raymundo 3, Aban 2, Gamalinda 0, Alvarez 0
Alaska (79) -- Thoss 17, Baguio 13, Baracael 11, Jazul 11, Casio 7, Espinas 6, Abueva 4, Reyes 4, Dela Cruz 2, Hontiveros 2, Belasco 2, Eman 0
Quarterscores: 14-19; 39-34; 69-57; 93-79.