Game Today (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
8 p.m. – Air21 vs Alaska
Manila, Philippines – It was a game Talk ’N Text coach Norman Black probably knew he had to win, especially after the Tropang Texters won their third straight without him.
“I promise you guys it’s not gonna happen again,” Black told sportswriters yesterday after the Tropang Texters turned back Barako Bull, 101-96, for their fourth consecutive victory in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Black was ejected late in the third quarter of their game against San Miguel Beer Friday, leaving the Texters’ fate at the hands of assistant coach Sandy Arespecochaga.
Behind import Richard Howell and Jimmy Alapag, TNT downed SMB, 107-99, to grab solo leadership and strike down a serious threat in its bid to clinch the first twice-to-beat slot in the quarterfinals.
Black made sure nothing would get him undone this time.
Jayson Castro led TNT with 25 points with 3 three-point shots, 5 assists and 3 steals as the originator of their dribble-drive offense, while Howell, working the paint as before, had 23 with 20 rebounds, 9 offensively. Nino Canaleta added 18 and Larry Fonacier 16 with 4 of 5 triples.
As it is, the Texters, with a 4-0 record, are already in the playoffs, but that clearly isn’t the goal Black has in mind.
The top two teams after the single round elimination get twice-to-beat incentives against the 7th and 8th-ranked teams in the quarters, and TNT would probably need at least three more wins to claim the edge.
Meanwhile, San Mig Super Coffee remained one of only two teams still unbeaten after overcoming Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 90-80, in their first meeting after the Mixers ousted the Kings in seven games in the semifinals of the previous Philippine Cup.
James May, who grabbed 29 rebounds, had 9 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter and rookie Ian Sangalang 8 of his 10 when the Mixers put down the Kings’ final stand for a second-running 2-0 card. The Kings slipped to 1-2.