Antipolo City — No static, no interruptions, no sporadic signals.
Talk ’N Text came through loud and clear yesterday, blasting Barako Bull, 105-76, and advancing to the knockout phase of the PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinals at the Ynares Sports Center here.
The Tropang Texters will meet Barangay Ginebra San Miguel who won over Globalport, 95-78 in the next phase.
The Bolts and the Aces dispute the other semifinals slot with the winner advancing to the best-of-7 series against outright qualifier Rain or Shine.
The Aces ousted the NLEX Road Warriors, 82-78, last Thursday, while the Bolts stunned Grand Slam champion and defending titlist Purefoods Star, 77-65, ending the Hotshots’ bid for a fifth straight PBA crown.
Avoiding the rugged path taken Alaska and Meralco, the Tropang Texters left nothing to chance against the Energy.
TNT put the game away in the second quarter, shattering a 29-all count with a closing 18-3 run to end the half, 47-32, as rookies Kevin Alas and Matt Ganuelas came up big.
Alas, one of two basketball-playing sons of Alaska assistant coach Louie Alas, hit five straight points, including a trey from right wing, to spark a 12-0 bomb. JC Intal, recently married, broke the spell but the Texters wound up with a six-point salvo to break the game open.
Ganuelas finished with 19 points on 8 of 10 shooting while Alas, who drained three triples, added 14, along with Jayson Castro.
“There’s this mentality ng players na minsan e nagre-relax,” said TNT coach Jong Uichico. “Medyo mababa lang yung energy nung first quarter, but they were able to pick it up in the second period.”
Uichico brushed off speculations that they’ve been using a lot of zone defense lately for a special reason.
“Our defense depends kung ano yung kalaban namin,” he said. “We’re in the zone most of the time because we thought Barako will have a harder time against that defense.”
A bittersweet marquee matchup against Barangay Ginebra looms in the horizon for Uichico, tempering his satisfaction over their fifth straight win from the eliminations.