TALK ‘N Text passed its first big test, recovering well from a near collapse in the final period behind the heroics of Larry Fonacier and Ranidel de Ocampo to beat San Mig Coffee, 85-74, in a battle of unbeaten teams on Saturday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The Tropang Texters, who remained the lone unbeaten team this season with their 4-0 record, blew a double-digit lead they erected during the first half, but then rode the hot hands of Fonacier who drained the go-ahead three-point shot for a 74-72 lead, with time down to five minutes and 21 seconds.
De Ocampo then preserved Fonacier’s heroics with key baskets in the final three minutes of play to hand the Mixers their first loss of the season. San Mig Coffee dropped to third at 2-1, behind Rain or Shine (3-1), which earlier won against newcomer Globalport, 94-83.
“I really felt this was our first big test today going against coach Tim Cone and San Mig Coffee. Of course, you’re not gonna score a lot of points because we’re playing against the best defensive team in the league. For us to win, we need to play good defense and score well also,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black.
Black said defense is what will keep them winning in a conference where every team has a chance to win.
“I think the goal right now is to get as many wins as possible, though we’re still far, far off from our goal. But I’m really proud of the boys because of how they played defense tonight. It’s very difficult to take [the Mixers] out of their sets. But somehow, we were able to disrupt their system,” added Black.
It was Black's first meeting with San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone in 10 years. The multi-titled coach's last tour of duty as coach in the league was in 2002, when he was still handling the now defunct Sta. Lucia Realty.
“We played them (Mixers) in the preseason in Cebu and we lost to them. But it’s nice to be back. I haven’t coached against him for the last 10 years. You know he’s a top caliber coach and his system is really advanced and developed. So you have to try to come up with a good plan every time,” explained the TNT mentor, who took over from Chot Reyes starting this season.
Reyes has since moved to handle the Smart Gilas 2.0 national team.
The Tropang Texters’ defense was pretty much effective, especially after shackling Mixers top gun James Yap. Yap led the Mixers with 18 points, but made just five of 21 shots.
So effective was Talk ‘N Text’s defense that it held San Mig Coffee to just nine points in the final period, while the Tropang Texters scored 21.
Talk ‘N Text also scored 18 more points from three-point land, sinking six more shots compared to San Mig Coffee. The Tropang Texters went nine-of-20 from beyond the arc, compared to the Mixers’ anemic three-of-17.
Talk ‘N Text 85 – Fonacier 26, Castro 16, Reyes 12, Williams 11, De Ocampo 10, Peek 6, Dillinger 2, Carey 2, Raymundo 0, Gamalinda 0, Alvarez 0, Ferriols 0
San Mig Coffee 74 – Yap 18, De Ocampo 12, Simon 11, Devance 10, Barroca 8, Reavis 5, Villanueva 4, Gonzales 4, Ramos 2
Quarter scores: 32-20, 52-41, 64-65, 85-74