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PBA: Texters go for 2-0 lead

TalKNText Ivan Johnson defends against RoS Wayne Chism.    Photo by Tony Pionilla

Game Today (Smart Araneta)
7 p.m. – Talk ‘N Text vs Rain or Shine

What could Ivan the Terrible be up to next?

After knocking over Rain or Shine coach Yeng Guiao in Game 1 Wednesday, Talk ‘N Text import Ivan Johnson could be looking to shove the entire Elasto Painters down a 0-2 hole this time.

With momentum on their side, the Tropang Texters, with Johnson leading the charge, gun for a 2-0 lead in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Final at 7 tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Only then could TNT coach Jong Uichico will finally be pleased.

Uichico wasn’t in a celebratory mood even after their 99-92 triumph in the opener at the Mall of Asia Arena, convinced his team had the capacity to play better.

“Yes we won, but I’m not satisfied with the way we played,” said Uichico.

Led by Ranidel de Ocampo’s 24 points and Johnson’s 23 and 12 rebounds, TNT dodged the bullet in a game marred by a controversial bump initiated from behind by Johnson that knocked Guiao down late in the third period, nearly triggering a bench-clearing situation.

TNT was fortunate Johnson drew just a technical instead of being banished as Guiao would have preferred.

Guiao, who fell on ROS governor Mert Mondragon after getting decked, called out Johnson for his “lack of breeding.”

An apology from TNT consultant and Gilas Pilipinas coach Tab Baldwin also did little to mollify the offended ROS coach.

“I’m not surprised because that’s been his reputation. It’s probably a lack of breeding and lack of respect and one reason he’s out of the NBA; one reason he’s playing overseas, and not getting a good reputation because of exactly what he does,” he said.

How they would approach Game 2 in light of what took place will provide a tense-filled sidelight.

Against a capable ROS side, Uichico said they have to stay focused in Game 2, knowing the E-Painters will go all out to bounce back with more aggressiveness and sense of urgency.

“We can’t let that happen,” said Uichico. “They are also capable of scoring at will.”

Guiao’s wards showed that they could match up well with TNT as Best Import contender Wayne Chism fired 34 points with 15 boards, while Paul Lee contributed 13 points.

However, what doomed the Painters’ chances of stealing Game 1 was the team’s shooting from the foul line where they converted just 18 of 33 attempts as compared to the Texters’ 21-of-26 free throws.

Guiao’s team controlled the rebounding department, 55-50, and held the opposing team’s leading scorer Jayson Castro to only 14 points. But ROS committed 17 errors, which translated into 15 points for TNT.

These two factors – free throw shooting and turnovers – must be improved. Guiao said.

“We’ll just have to go back to practice (Thursday) and try to improve our free throws and find solutions to the turnovers that we committed,” said Guiao as his team aims for the equalizer. “If we have made a few more free throws, the game would have been closer. If we have minimized our turnovers, the game would have been a lot closer.” (With report from Tito Talao)