Game 1 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals was essentially over after Talk ‘N Text import Ivan Johnson blindsided Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao late in the third quarter and knocked him down.
The ROS Elasto Painters never got up from the pummeling they absorbed all night long as the TNT Tropang Texters ran away with a 99-92 victory last night at the start of the best-of-7 championship series at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Game 2 is tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with Rain or Shine confronted with a myriad of questions after getting shut down, except for Wayne Chism, by the TNT defense.
Five turnovers from Chism and four from Gabe Norwood made up mostly for the 17 miscues committed by the E-Painters, who gave up 11 more turnover points to the Texters’ eight errors overall.
Worse, after Chism’s 34 points and 16 rebounds, only Paul Lee, with 13, was in double figures while TNT had four players with more than 10 points. Ranidel de Ocampo unloaded 24 points to lead the Tropang Texters while Johnson added 23 with 12 rebounds in fighting off early foul trouble.
Johnson was also credited with one knockdown.
The anticipated fireworks from the backcourt matchup between Lee and TNT’s Jayson Castro, two of the leading protagonists for the Best Player of the Conference award, never materialized as both playmakers were targeted by the respective defense from the onset.
Lee failed to sustain a hot start and shot just 5 of 12 in 32:21 minutes with three 3-pointers, while Castro took on the role of a facilitator for the TNT offense in going 5 of 15 from the field in 34:14 minutes, missing 6 of 8 three-point attempts.
What sparks the tame duel between Lee and Castro couldn’t produce, however, Johnson and, inadvertently, Guiao jointly provided.
In what could be a highlight film and trademark of the series, Johnson rammed Guiao from behind outside the sideline in front of the ROS bench, sending the E-Painters coach, who gave away considerable poundage and yardage to the Texters import, toppling over his players with 3:36 remaining in the third and TNT ahead 70-61.
Howling in unison, the ROS bench rose in an uproar and a review of the footage determined Johnson, who appeared to have gestured apologetically after decking Guiao, deserved a technical which the TNT bench didn’t question.
ROS tried to use the incident as a rallying point for a fightback and did come within five points on many occasions the rest of the way but couldn’t rise over the hump in the wake of its turnovers and bad shot selection, and TNT’s clutch shooting
Perhaps no basket stood as a testament to the Texters’ refusal to back down other than rookie Kevin Alas’ buzzer-beating Hail Mary 3-pointer from way out that stretched a 78-73 lead to eight with 8:41 remaining
“We gave up too many points,” said TNT coach Jong Uichico. “We’re happy we won but we’re not satisfied with the way we played. Though we won, we didn’t show the level of emotion we had in the Purefoods series.”
Guiao would have willingly traded places with his TNT counterpart mentor if only to get more from his local players although he wasn’t about to let Johnson off so easily.
“He did it on purpose,” said Guiao. “He can easily avoid me; he’s on my blindside. It’s up to the league what needs to be done. I’m not surprised; it’s his reputation, lack of breeding and lack of respect. That’s the reason why he’s out of the NBA.”
Guiao said he expects the league to do something more than the penalty that Johnson got.
“It was uncalled for,” he said. “ I wasn’t berating him. He kept on looking at me. It’s a reflection of his personality, his education. I was surprised it was only a technical, he should be out of the game. If my players did that to coach Jong…”
Meanwhile, Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin has submitted 26 names to the PBA for consideration in the national team that will play in the FIBA Asia Championship in Changsa, China in September.
Baldwin is scheduled to pay a courtesy call to team owners prior to naming the pool of players for the Asian championship, the qualifier to the 2016 Rio Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.
The American mentor will be accompanied by PBA commissioner Chito Salud and media bureau chief Willie Marcial when he first meet with Rain or Shine’s Terry Que and Raymond Yu, Globalport’s Mikee Romero and Alaska’s Wilfred Steven Uytengsu . (With report from Waylon Galvez)
TALK N’ TEXT 99 – De Ocampo 24, Johnson 23, Castro 14, Rosser 10, Fonacier 8, Williams 8, Washington 5, Alas 5, Carey 2, Aban 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 92 – Chism 34, Lee 13, Almazan 9, Chan 8, Tang 6, Norwood 5, Tiu 5, Ibanes 4, Arana 3, Belga 2, Quinahan 2, Cruz Jervy 1, Uyloan 0, Cruz Jericho 0.
Quarters:28-23, 49-41, 76-70, 99-92