After successfully keeping the Philippine Cup last conference, Talk ‘N Text will now have a chance to defend the Commissioner’s Cup.
The Tropang Texters made a return trip to the finals with a hard-earned 101-90 triumph over Barako Bull in their do-or-die semifinals match Wednesday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Old reliables Jimmy Alapag and Ranidel de Ocampo delivered big down the stretch, picking up from where import Donnel Harvey left off.
Alapag and De Ocampo’s clutch baskets in the final three and a half minutes helped weather the final uprising by Barako Bull, which pushed the favored Tropang Texters in the series.
“It’s always a special feeling to get to the finals,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Chot Reyes after the game. “I had high regard for Danny Seigle, one of my all-time favorite players, Willie Miller, Wynne Arboleda, and Dorian Pena. We had no illusions about the other team because we know they know how to play the game.”
“Coach Junel Baculi and Bong Ramos put together a game plan where they had a chance of winning, but in this series, it’s the team who can make the big shots down the stretch which mattered the most. Tonight, we saw Ranidel making a four-point play and Jimmy Alapag hitting a three-pointer. In the finals, we expect that it’s going to be that way again.”
Alapag’s three-pointer at the 3:39 mark of the fourth quarter shoved the Tropang Texters lead up to eight, 92-84. After Tubid made back-to-back shots to give Barako Bull a lease on life, De Ocampo hit a dagger four-point play to knock the spirit out of the Energy.
The Tropang Texters have made it to the championship round for the fifth straight time. The last time to team make five straight finals appearances was the San Miguel Beermen, which entered the championship round from the 2000 Commissioner’s Cup to the 2001 Governors’ Cup.
As early as the first half, Talk ‘N Text was taking advantage on the number of free throws given to them. The Tropang Texters were given 17 free throws compared to only three for the Energy.
Talk ‘N Text raced to a big lead in the first half after getting 17 free throws attempts to Barako Bull’s three. Overall, Talk ‘N Text shot 30-of-38 from the line while Barako Bull shot just 15 overall.
But while the Tropang Texters threatened to blow the game open, Barako Bull kept the defending champions within arm’s reach, on the heroics of Gabe Freeman, Danny Seigle, and Ronald Tubid, who scored 22, 21, and 19 points respectively.
Import Harvey was a force all game long for Talk ‘N Text, scoring a series-high 29 points.
Talk N’ Text (101) – Harvey 29, De Ocampo 18, Dillinger 14, Castro 14, Williams 9, Peek 7, Alapag 6, Fonacier 3, Reyes 1, Alvarez 0.
Barako Bull (90) – Freeman 22, Seigle 21, Tubid 18, Allado 12, Miller 6, Salvador 4, Najorda 3, Arboleda 2, Pena 2, Weinstein 0, Pennisi 0.
Quarters: 25-27; 56-47; 77-74; 101-90
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