Jayson Castro was so fast, the B-MEG Llamados didn’t know what hit them.
Talk ‘N Text was trailing by five points, 99-94, with less than two minutes left when Castro scored six straight points including the go-ahead three-pointer at the 35.7-second mark to lift the Tropang Texters to a 104-102 victory Wednesday night at the packed SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Talk ‘N Text preserved the win, but not without several tense moments at the free throw line. The Tropang Texters forced two straight defensive stops, but Donnell Harvey and Kelly Williams both missed all their ensuing free throws to keep the Llamados in the game.
But B-MEG import Denzel Bowles threw the ball away off Williams’ miss, instead of calling timeout. Ryan Reyes cradled the ball, making two free throws to give Talk ‘N Text a 102-99 edge. The Tropang Texters sent Bowles to the free throw line on the next possession, and the B-MEG reinforcement split his free throws to cut the deficit to two points.
Jimmy Alapag hit two more free throws in the succeeding play to preserve the win for the Tropang Texters, before Bowles hit a meaningless layup to end the game for the final score.
“In the end, it will all boil down to the last possession, that’s how it’s gonna be,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes.
He credited a more efficient performance for his team for the victory.
“Today we only had seven turnovers and 12 missed free throws. We can survive a game with that number of turnovers and missed shots,” Reyes said.
He said it really was his strategy to foul Bowles at the end of the game with Talk ‘N Text up three points.
“It was my instruction to foul Bowles. My only fault was not telling Ali Peek to foul when Bowles was still in the half court. But then again, it’s a much better gamble instead of giving up a foul when Bowles was already attacking or have given up a hand off to a shooter, who’ll take a three-pointer and give up three free throws,” said Reyes.
Talk ‘N Text tied the series at 1-all, winning despite explosive performances from Bowles, who scored 33 points and grabbed 13 rebounds, and James Yap, who scored 20 of his conference-high 25 points in the second half on 5-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc. Yap also had eight rebounds.
Harvey carried the fight for Talk ‘N Text, scoring 29 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. Castro added 23 points, five rebounds, and five assists despite nursing various leg injuries.
Talk ‘N Text 104 – Harvey 29, Castro 23, Reyes 13, Peek 12, Williams 8, Dillinger 6, De Ocampo 6, Fonacier 4, Alapag 3, Gamalinda 0, Carey 0
B-MEG – Bowles 33, Yap 25, Urbiztondo 15, Simon 10, Pingris 9, Barroca 4, Devance 4, De Ocampo 2, Intal 0, Villanueva 0, Reavis 0
Quarters: 24-16, 49-48, 73-75, 104-102
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