Talk ‘N Text leaned on its defense in the final period, holding Barangay Ginebra to just one field goal as it pulled off an 87-80 victory to end the elimination round on a high note in Sunday night’s PBA Philippine Cup action at the MOA Arena.
Down by as many as 14 points late in the third period, the Tropang Texters staged a huge comeback in the final quarter behind cat-quick guard Jayson Castro and the game-long hustle of man-mountain Ali Peek.
They went on to outscore the Gin Kings, 19-7 in the fourth quarter, allowing the Texters to post their fifth straight win and end the elimination round with a league-best 12-2 record.
The Gin Kings, on the other hand, wound up with an even 7-7 record for sixth spot. They now face Rain or Shine - a team the Kings beat twice in the elims - in a best-of-three quarterfinal duel beginning on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
While there was nothing at stake in the game except, pride, Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black said they entered the game with just one thing in mind – to win.
“There’s no such thing as a non-bearing game. We want to play as hard as we could. I think we owe it all to the fans. We just hung in there and made some big shots down the stretch,” said Black, whose team faces Air21 in the quarterfinals.
The Tropang Texters though, only need to win once to advance to the semifinals, owing to the twice-to-beat incentive they earned for topping the 14-game elimination round.
“The win was more about pride, more than anything else. And the fact that we may see this team (Ginebra) down the road. We knew coming into this game, we’ll lose the last two games (against Ginebra) if we lose to them tonight. Sometimes, you just have to think of the team and the league, no matter what the situation is,” said Black.
Castro led the reigning champions with 24 points, seven rebounds, and five assists, while Peek finished with a double-double of 16 points and 18 rebounds, while adding three shot blocks.
The Gin Kings, on the other hand, drew 20 and 19 points from Mark Caguioa and LA Tenorio, who tried to carry on the fight in the second half, but to no avail.
Talk ‘N Text (87) - Castro 24, Peek 16, Williams 13, Fonacier 11, Reyes 8, Alapag 6, De Ocampo 4, Aban 3, Dillinger 2, Ferriols 0, Carey 0
Barangay Ginebra (80) - Caguioa 20, Tenorio 19, Raymundo 10, Maierhofer 4, Mamaril 4, Hatfield 4, Ellis 3, Labagala 3, Taha 2, Jensen 2, Maliksi 2, Espiritu 2, Wilson 2
Quarterscores: 23-22, 38-49, 68-73, 87-80.