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PBA: Talk ‘N Text levels series

San Mig Super Coffee’s James Mays soars high for a two-handed slam during Game 2 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum

by Waylon Galvez

Game Tomorrow (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
8 p.m. – San Mig Super Coffee vs Talk ’N Text

Manila, Philippines – The ‘real’ Talk ‘N Text finally showed up in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals.

A disappointment in the series opener, the Tropang Texters rediscovered the form that made them win their first 13 games to secure an 86-76 victory over the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers, tying the best-of-five title showdown at 1-1 last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Best Player of the Conference candidate Jayson Castro fired 30 points – the most by any local player this conference – on 10-of-21 shooting as TNT led by 18 points before foiling a last ditch comeback by San Mig.

Castro’s consistency also saw him hit 5-of-8 three-pointers, including the one that gave the Texters an 82-73 lead with 2:48 remaining in the game.

That trey proved to be the cushion that Talk ‘N Text needed after San Mig threatened a big comeback despite key players James Yap and Peter Simon sitting on the bench throughout the payoff period.

San Mig closed in at 82-76 on two free throws by Mark Barroca, but the Mixers wasted several chances to narrow the gap.

After trading turnovers, San Mig import James Mays missed a layup that would have cut it to four. TNT’s Ranidel de Ocampo sank two free throws on the ensuing possession to virtually secure the win.

Game 3 is set tomorrow at the Big Dome.

“I think effort is the number one thing,” said TNT mentor Norman Black, whose team’s lackluster play coupled with San Mig’s energy in Game 1 resulted in a 95-80 loss that ended the team’s bid for an unbeaten conference.

This time, the tables were turned.

“A lot more intensity and energy for us. We had to really go back to the drawing board, analyze what San Mig was doing to us offensively and defensively. A lot more focus and sense of urgency resulted to a win. Our defense was a lot better,” added Black.

“They certainly turned the table on us,” said San Mig coach Tim Cone. “They came out with more aggression, they’re more sharper and more alert. I can’t say we were over confident against this team… maybe tired.”

Black also paid tribute to Castro for leading TNT’s renewed form, saying: “Jayson carried us offensively in this game. He is basically… they’re targeting him on our offense, they are putting Marc Pingris on him, the league’s top defensive player.”

Best Import candidate Richard Powell finished with 18 points and 20 rebounds, Larry Fonacier had nine points while de Ocampo hit all of his eight points in the second half, a decent improvement from his 5-point, 1-of-13 clip in Game 1.

After San Mig won the rebounding battle last Friday (45-41), TNT controlled the boards this time, 47-40, shot 32-of-71 (45.1%) as compared to San Mig’s 26-of-70 (37.1%). The Mixers nailed 37-of-76 (48.7%) against the Texters’ 25-of-69 (36.2%) in Game 1.

Mays led San Mig with 15 points and 12 rebounds, and the rookie Justin Melton matched their import’s offensive output with 15. Pingris, also didn’t play much in the fourth period, had 11 points and six boards.

TALK ‘N TEXT 86 – Castro 30, Howell 18, Fonacier 9, De Ocampo 8, Williams 8, Carey 4, Alapag 4, Canaleta 3, Reyes Ryan 2, Reyes Rob 0.

SAN MIG SUPER COFFEE 76 – Mays 15, Melton 15, Pingris 11, Barroca 7, Sangalang 7, Yap 6, Devance 5, Simon 4, De Ocampo 2, Mallari 2, Reavis 2.

Quarters: 19-15; 37-33; 65-49; 86-76.