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PBA: TNT tames Barako

Barako Bull's Solomon Alabi was pushed and gets a foul against TalkNText Rob Reyes as Ranidel DeOcampo tries to help during PBA action at Smart Araneta Coliseum.   Photo by Tony Pionilla

Manila, Philippines – The air up there just got too rarified for Barako Bull

Launching its attack from 3-point range, Talk ‘N Text snapped Barako Bull’s 3-game winning streak last night, 80-75, to leave the PBA Commissioner’s Cup with only two unbeaten teams at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Six Tropang Texters were in double figures, but none higher than Jayson Castro’s 16 points as TNT, now tied with Barako Bull on 3-1 slates, put premium on balanced scoring and methodical play to thwart the Energy’s bid to join the Meralco Bolts and the defending champion Purefoods Star Hotshots on 4-0 slates.

“We need to find more ways to put points on the board,” said TNT coach Jong Uichico. “But we’re slowly getting there.”

TNT rained down 33 three-point shots on Barako Bull, with 11 finding their mark, while the Energy went 3 of 13 from afar.

The Energy’s 7-foot import Solomon Alabi had 21 points, 12 in the fourth quarter when the battle was fiercest, and 23 rebounds but got no help from the rest of the team in the last 12 minutes.

Sol Mercado, Alabi’s scoring partner, sat out the game with a swollen big toe which he hurt in a collision with Joseph Yeo in the game against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel a few days ago.

Without Mercado, Barako Bull lost its second highest scorer and main defense attacker, leaving the Energy with little option as rookies Carlo Lastimosa (16 points) and Jake Pascual (12) went scoreless in the final period.

Larry Fonacier shattered a 64-all count with a 3-pointer from top of the key and Barako Bull never leveled back.

Foul-plagued Richard Howell, TNT’s import, dodged a disastrous sixth foul halfway in the fourth quarter after neophyte Matt Ganuelas-Rosser was instead called for the contact on Alabi with the Texters hanging on to a 69-65 lead.

Howell just had 11 points, including 2 in the last frame, but his 18 rebounds were enough to get a vote of confidence from Uichico.

“He plays hard, gives us what we need in rebounds and defense, and he puts up decent numbers,” said Uichico. “We don’t go to him that much so we don’t expect him to score in the 20s.”

Three TNT locals took tons of shots, with Castro going 5 of 12, Willie Miller 5 of 15 and Ranidel de Ocampo 4 of 14, including 3 of 9 from beyond the arc. The sheer number of triples proved adequate to rattle the Energy however.

Meanwhile, defending champion Purefoods Star and Rain or Shine clash at 5 p.m. today in the Petron Saturday Special at the Dipolog Sports Center.
Both are coming off losses, with TNT looking for its third win in four games and ROS for its third in five outings.

Import Richard Howell will banner the Tropang Texters, who absorbed a 91-83 loss to the Meralco Bolts on Feb. 4, while the Elasto Painters, who bowed to Meralco, 92-87, on Feb. 10, remain torn between sticking it out the 6-foot-8 Rick Jackson or bringing back former reinforcement Wayne Chism.

“As strong as Purefoods is, I think they’ve maximized in height with the acquisition of [Daniel] Orton,” said ROS coach Yeng Guiao. “He played well in his first game, jelled well with his teammates and he’s going to play well in our game… and that’s what we’ll prepare for when we face Purefoods.”

Running in transition will be crucial, according to Guiao.

“One concern we have is we are slowing down, we’re not using our fast break,” he said. “We cannot slow down against Purefoods, they’ll kill us if we settle to half-court sets. We have to make the game fast.” (With reports from Waylon Galvez)

TALK N’ TEXT 80 – Castro 16, Rosser 15, Miller 13, De Ocampo 11, Howell 11, Fonacier 10, Alas 4, Washington 0, Carey 0, Labagala 0, Espiritu 0, Reyes R. J. 0, Aban 0.

BARAKO 75 – Alabi 21, Lastimosa 16, Pascual 12, Garcia 8, Intal 7, Lanete 5, Wilson 4, Marcelo 2, Chua 0, Salvador 0, Hubalde 0, Salva 0, Paredes 0, Sorongon 0.

Quarters: 25-19, 47-37, 62-59, 80-75