Writing an obituary for a banged up Petron Blaze squad going up against mighty Talk ‘N Text in the 2011 PBA Governors’ Cup finals?
Danny Ildefonso might have something to say about that.
The two-time PBA Most Valuable Player saved his best for last, making two clutch plays to help the Boosters pull off a stunning 89-88 win in a thrilling game 1 finish of the best-of-seven series at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum Sunday night.
Ildefonso scored the last four points of the Boosters, including the buzzer-beating basket off a pass from import Anthony Grundy.
“God is good talaga. Hindi na ako tumira noon, but si God na,” said Ildefonso, the two-time MVP playing on his 16th finals appearance.
“First time ko ito (buzzer beater). Masayang-masaya ako.”
Sunday Salvacion paced Petron with 19 points while Grundy had a triple-double with 17 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists for the undermanned Boosters.
Arwind Santos and Dennis Miranda chipped in 12 points each for Petron, which is playing in the finals minus Jay Washington, Joseph Yeo, Rabeh Al-Hussaini and Lordy Tugade due to various injuries.
Jimmy Alapag led the Tropang Texters with 18 points while Larry Fonacier added 16. Ranidel de Ocampo returned to the Talk ‘N Text roster after missing the semifinals. He contributed 13.
It was defense that played a key role for the Boosters’ win, particularly against prolific Talk ‘N Text import Scottie Reynolds, who struggled big time.
The sweet-shooting Reynolds was held to only four points behind miserable 1-of-10 shooting from the field.
The Tropang Texters started on fire, hitting 40 points in the first quarter alone, but were held down to just 15 in the second period.
Talk ‘N Text was still in the lead at 84-75 when the Boosters unleashed a 8-2 burst to close the gap to just two points with 1:53 remaining.
After Ryan Reyes split his charities, Grundy hit a pair of free throes to push his team within one, 86-85.
Needing a big defensive stop, Arwind Santos and Ildefonso double-teamed Larry Fonacier, who committed a turnover.
Ildefonso, an Urdaneta, Pangasinan native, completed the steal and drove in for an open lay-up to give Petron the lead with 17.4 seconds left.
In the next play, Alapag found Ryan Reyes in the paint for a layup to give Talk ‘N Text an 88-87 lead.
The final play was a pick-and-roll for Anthony Grundy at the top of the key, with Alex Cabagnot coming off a staggered screen from the corner. The Petron Blaze import drove the lane, forcing the defense to collapse, and found the wide open Ildefonso for the corner jumper.
Fans at the Big Dome celebrated while Ildefonso’s teammates mobbed him after the shot was made. Talk ‘N Text and its diehards could only watch in disbelief at the loss, which meant that the heavily favored squad is now trailing 1-0 in the series.
But Petron Blaze coach Ato Agustin doesn’t want to be carried away.
“Underdog pa rin kami. Mas gusto namin nang ganoon,” said Petron coach Ato Agustin.
Game 2 will be held on Wednesay at Tubod, Lanao del Norte.
PETRON BLAZE 89 – Salvacion 19, Grundy 17, Ildefonso 13, Santos 12, Miranda 12, Cabagnot 9, Pennisi 5, Duncil 2, Baclao 0, Hubalde 0.
TALK N’ TEXT 88 – Alapag 18, Fonacier 16, De Ocampo 13, Williams 10, Reyes 8, Castro 7, Carey 6, Peek 6, Reynolds 4, Yee 0, Dillinger 0, Aban 0.
Quarters: 32-40, 51-55, 67-74, 89-88
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