The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters will have a chance to go for a three-peat in Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup after beating Alaska in their best of 7 semifinal series, 4-2. The Texters will be facing the defending Governor’s Cup titlist the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters.
The Texters won Game 6 with the score of 83-78. The game was a tight affair as both teams were very disciplined in their defense. The game was marked with several lead changes before the Tropang Texters pulled away in the last few minutes. Jimmy Alapag, Kelly Williams, and Ali Peek combined to give the defending All-Filipino champions an 80-71 lead with barely four minutes left in the final period. Jvee Casio gave some life to Alaska’s overachieving campaign with a 4-point play to trim the lead to just 5 points. A lull scoring happened in the next possessions of either items as it was marked steals, blocked shots, turnovers, and some hurried shots. After Casio missed a three point attempt just over 20 seconds left in the game, the Alaska Aces were not able foul a TNT player allowing Talk ‘N Text to waste some seconds before the Aces stopped the clock. With 15 seconds left, Alaska sent Alapag to the line and he obliged be calmly hitting 2 pressure-packed free throws to increase the lead to 82-75. In Alaska’s possession, Dondon Hontiveros hit a three-point shot to trim the lead the 5. The Aces fouled Ranidel de Ocampo who split his free throws for the final tally as the Texters scuttled Alaska’s final play.
Jason Castro topped the scoring for the Tropang Texters finishing with 16 points, 4 rebounds, and 4 assists. Alapag and 3 others scored in double figures to backstop Castro. Rookie sensation Calvin Abueva had a career-high 23 points along 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 1 steal and 1 block to lead the Aces. Big men Gabby Espinas and Sonny Thoss combined for 24 points and 16 rebounds. Alaska missed 11 free throws in the game and they allowed Talk ‘N Text to hit 9 long range bombs with 3 coming from Alapag.
The semifinal exit is somehow a big achievement for the rebuilding Aces after finishing near the bottom of the standings in all 3 conferences of last year. The drafting of Calvin Abueva and acquisition of Jvee Casio has somehow reinvigorated the proud Uytengsu franchise. Alaska is expected to be a tough contender in the next conferences and with more time together it will not be long that they will be gunning for their 14th title to move to solo second all-time behind the 19 by San Miguel. Alaska is currently tied at second with the legendary but defunct Crispa franchise.
Talk ‘N Text will try to capture its 4th title in the last 7 conferences. The 3 past titles were with teams handled by now-national coach Chot Reyes. The Tropang Texters are now being mentored by grand slam coach Norman Black who recently came back pro leagues after leading the Ateneo Blue Eagles to 5 consecutive championships in the UAAP.
TALK N’ TEXT 83 - Castro 16, Alapag 15, Dillinger 11, Williams 11, De Ocampo 11,Carey 6, Fonacier 5, Peek 5, Reyes 3, Raymundo 0, Aban 0.
ALASKA 78 – Abueva 23, Espinas 13, Thoss 11, Casio 10, Hontiveros 7, Baracael 6, Jazul 5, Baguio 3, Dela Cruz 0.
Quarters: 25-18, 42-41, 64-62, 83-78