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    Texters survive fright as de Ocampo turns from goat to hero

    Dec 13, 2012

    RANIDEL de Ocampo made the go-ahead three-point shot off a broken play with the shotclock running down as top-seeded Talk ‘N Text escaped with a 105-100 victory minnows Air21 to book the first semifinal seat in their PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday night.

    De Ocampo buried the step-back three-pointer to break a 98-all standoff with 25.2 seconds to play, as he was quick to redeem himself just one play after he was blocked by Air21 big man Nonoy Baclao on a hard drive to the basket.

    Bonbon Custodio squeezed in for a quick baseline drive off a timeout to slash the deficit to one with 15.4 remaining in the game clock but after two Jayson Castro freethrows, Custodio lost control of the ball as went for another drive, the ball hitting the bottom of the board before landing out of bounds.

    That lost possession broke the hopes of the Express, who had led at one point by 11 points midway in the second period and gave the heavily favored Texters all they could handle in the playoff match.

    “First of all, hats off to Air21, I think they were well-prepared today. They defended well today. They are much better than their record. It was a tough game,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black, whose team had owner Manny V. Pangilinan cheering behind the bench.

    "But at the same time, we were able to move on because this was our goal to make it to the semifinals and then to the finals. Now we just have to wait who to play in the semis," Black added.

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    The Tropang Texters entered the game needing just one win to advance to the semifinals, owing to their 12-2 record that earned them the No. 1 seeding and the twice-to-beat edge.

    But the boys of Black had to grind it out against a surprisingly tough Air21 bunch, which drew inspired plays from KG Canaleta and Mike Cortez.

    The 6-6 Canaleta shot a game-high 25 points on 6-of-9 shooting from beyond the three-point arc to keep the Express while  Cortez flirted with a triple-double as he finished with 21 points, a career-high 18 assists to go along with nine rebounds in 40 minutes of play.

    The Tropang Texters struggled against an Express team that played with three guards on the floor at the same time. Air21 coach Franz Pumaren kept Ren-Ren Ritualo, Cortez and Custodio for a large part of the second half and the trio did a lot of damage both from inside and out.

    Black said he will have to go back and watch the tape of this game to address some of the team’s weaknesses.

    “We just have to go back to the drawing board and see what our weaknesses were in this game,” noted Black, whose team is looking to win its third straight all-Filipino title.

    The scores:

    Talk ‘N Text 105 - Reyes 16, Fonacier 16, Castro 15, De Ocampo 13, Alapag 13, Aban 10, Dillinger 8, {eek 8, Williams 4, Carey 2, Raymundo 0

    Air21 100 - Canaleta 25, Cortez 21, Isip 18, Ritualo 14, Baclao 10, Custodio 9, Arboleda 3, Sena 0, Wilson 0, Reyes 0

    Quarterscores: 25-23, 51-47, 85-79, 105-100

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