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PBA: TNT eyes 4th straight

by Tito S. Talao

Games Today (Smart Araneta)
3 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs Barako Bull
5:15 p.m. – Barangay Ginebra San Mig Coffee

Talk ‘N Text guns for a fourth straight win today in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup when it goes up against Barako Bull at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with Tropang Texters coach Norman Black likely to have down from last Friday’s outburst.

Black was ejected on consecutive Ts late in the third quarter of TNT’s game with San Miguel Beer, the first time in 28 years he has been tossed. He fumed as he off the court and he continued to see the later in the press room even after Jimmy Alapag and import Richard Howell had combined to help the Tropang Texters put away the Beermen, 107-99, in a battle of unbeaten co-leaders.

“I don’t even know if I deserved it, but so be it,” said Black, who completed a Grand Slam finish with San Miguel back in 1989 before transferring to other teams. “Still it was very lonely in the locker room as I was there by my lonesome.”

While other head coaches usually have instructions relayed to the bench from wherever they are after getting banished, Black said he has no need to do the same.

“Coach Sandy [Arespacochaga] has been with me for 11 years. He pretty knows how I think. And, of course, he had to make his decisions and he did well,” said Black.

Arespacochaga got some help from another longtime San Miguel coach, Jong Uichico, who joined the Meralco Bolts in 2012 before moving to the Tropang Texters after last conference.

Howell, with 38 points, 20 rebounds, 4 assists, 5 steals and a block, outdueled SMB’s replacement for Josh Boone, 6-foot-7 Kevin Jones, who had 35 points, 13 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 steal, and 2 blocks.

Alapag was 4 of 6 from 3-point range, and his last triple, along with two free throws, in the closing minutes gave TNT a 102-96 cushion.

Black will be back calling the shots against Barako Bull, a rugged and physical team which the Texters will find even harder to fend off than SMB’s June Mar Fajardo.

The Energy Cola dropped their second game the other day, losing badly to the Air21 Express, 103-85, after shocking Rain or Shine, 110-106, last Sunday.

Air21, with import Herve Lamizana pouring 21 of his 24 points in third quarter, shackled the high-scoring Joshua Dollard, who did a Houdini with 12 points on 4 of 16 shooting with 7 turnovers.

Shutting down Dollard, the way Air21 did, will be TNT’s main goal, with Ranidel de Ocampo, Harvey
Carey, Aaron Aban and Nonoy Baclao alternately softening him up before handing him over to Howell in the fourth quarter.

In the other game, meanwhile, San Mig Super Coffee, fresh from a debut 91-75 rout of Globalport last Wednesday, takes on crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra San Miguel at 5:15 p.m. in a rematch of their semifinal showdown in the previous Philippine Cup.

The Mixers ousted the Kings in Game 7 of the semis and then went on to beat Rain or Shine in six games in the finals, giving coach Tim Cone his 16th career championship.

Ginebra is aching to redeem itself from a 112-96 shellacking by the Beermen Sunday where Boone buried the Kings with 32 points and 21 rebounds but was fired anyway.

Leon Rodgers had 33 points and 11 rebounds that evening for Ginebra. But reports bared he may be suffering from plantar , a painful swelling of the heel and arch of the foot, and has been advised by doctors to stay off scrimmages for awhile.

TALK N’ TEXT 107 – Howell 38, Alapag 18, De Ocampo 16, Castro 10, Fonacier 8, Canaleta 6, Reyes Ry. 5, Aban 3, Carey 2, Williams 1, Reyes Ro. 0, Baclao 0.

SAN MIGUEL 99 – Jones 35, Hubalde 14, Lassiter 12, Lutz 9, Santos 9, Fajardo 7, Mercado 5, Kramer 4, Tubid 2, Ross 2, Maierhofer 0, Duncil 0.

Quarters: 26-19, 51-38, 77-68, 107-99