by Waylon Galvez
Manila, Philippines – Talk ’N Text import Paul Harris made a rousing return to the PBA last night.
In his third stint with the franchise, Harris fired 37 points as he powered the Tropang Texters to a 97-82 win over the Globalport Batang Pier in the season-ending PLDT Home Telpad PBA Governors’ Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.
Harris, who helped TNT capture the 2011 Commissioner’s Cup title and was the team’s reinforcement in this same conference back in 2012, led the team as it pulled away in the second half from a tight first two quarters with the Batang Pier.
The 27-year-old Harris, a former Syracuse stalwart, scattered 28 points in the second half and was called in as a replacement for Rodney Carney, who had filled the void left by Othyus Jeffers.
Flashing an array of moves – jump shots, layups, and three-pointers (as he connected 6-of-8 from the territory) – Harris proved he can still fit in the system of Talk ’N Text under coach Norman Black.
“It’s nice to be back. My goal is to help the team win. If we can win the championship, it’ll be great for us,” said Harris, whose first two forays with TNT were under coach Chot Reyes.
Harris added 14 rebounds and four assists in 43 minutes of action.
Ahead by just two points at halftime, 41-39, Harris almost single-handedly carried the fight for TNT as he scored 16 points, allowing the Tropang Texters to take a 69-63 advantage.
The win was Talk ’N Text’s fourth straight as it improved its record to 5-1 to take solo lead in the team standings.
“We welcome Paul Harris with open arms. He has only practiced with us two days. We struggled a lot in the first half but our defense was the key in the second half, so we’re able to pull away,” said Black, who also got 14 points from Jayson Castro while Ranidel de Ocampo added 14 markers.
Globalport dropped its fourth straight game for a 1-5 card, tying Barako Bull and Meralco at the bottom of the standings. Import Dior Lowhorn led Batang Pier with 22 points and 10 rebounds, while Alex Cabagnot had 17 markers.
Meanwhile, injured Beermen Marcio Lassiter and Chris Ross will join the team when they play Meralco in Cagayan de Oro today although it is uncertain whether they will play in an out of town game at the Xavier University gym in Cagayan de Oro.
Lassiter and Ross have missed the last two games but their trip means they can be called upon if necessary in the 5 p.m. showdown with the Bolts.