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Shorthanded Talk ‘N Text escapes last-minute blitz from hungry Ginebra

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Big plays from their two imports in the fourth quarter gave the injury-plagued Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters the means to pull away from the likewise shorthanded Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, who exploded for a massive last minute run late in the quarter, and later emerge with the 95-91 victory Sunday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Huge baskets from their frontcourt helped Talk ‘N Text take control in the first quarter, building a 13-4 lead in the early half of the period. Down by nine with around five minutes left, import Orlando Johnson and new acquisition Solomon Mercado from Ginebra put together an 11-4 blitz that cut the lead to a single possession, 22-24, with just around a minute left on the clock. Three points from a split charity and a layup from Danny Seigle helped the Tropang Texters escape with the 27-22 lead at the end of the quarter.

TNT held on to the steady lead come the second quarter, and with four minutes left built up another double-digit lead, 48-37, following baskets from their two imports. However, the lead was easily trimmed by a literal last minute blitz by Orlando Johnson and LA Tenorio, who collaborated for nine unanswered points all in the final minute and a half of the period. At the half, TNT led 53-48.

Two straight buckets from Johnson gave Ginebra its first taste of the lead early in the second half, 55-54. Ginebra stayed nipping at the Tropang Texters’ heels for most of the quarter, with American Steffphon Pettigrew holding the fort for TNT and keeping in control of the pace. At the end of the quarter’s fiery exchange, TNT led by a thread, 72-71.

Another heated trade of salvos greeted the fourth quarter, with Ginebra continuing their push for the lead. Consecutive baskets from Johnson gave Ginebra a taste of the lead, 84-83 around the halfway mark of the final period. But the TNT bigs at the other end delivered the goods, with Pettigrew, Seigle, and Jordanian Sam Daghles all hitting baskets to give TNT a much needed 91-84 lead just before the two-minute announcement.

Following a series of crucial misses by the Gin Kings, it was Daghles who struck with the dagger, sinking a jumper with a minute and half left on the clock to grab the nine-point lead for the Tropang Texters. A free throw from the other import Pettigrew made it a ten-point game, 94-84.

Regardless, the Gin Kings squeezed out another late push to save the game, with two free throws from Mercado and a triple and two charities from Josh Urbiztondo trimming the margin to three, 94-91, with just 21.3 left on the clock.

After drawing the foul and burning away some time off the clock, TNT gunner Larry Fonacier split two free throws with 11 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, 95-91. No one from Ginebra could convert in the short time remaining on the clock, and at the buzzer, it was the Tropang Texters who walked away with the win.

Veteran Danny Seigle was named Player of the Game with 14 points and 3 rebounds. TNT imports Pettigrew and Daghles also stood out in their Governor’s Cup debut. Pettigrew led the scoring with 33 points while Daghles had 12, hitting big shots in the pivotal final period. Import Johnson had 46 big points to lead Ginebra.

Talk ‘ N Text was without the men who led them to championship gold just weeks ago- Commissioner’s Cup BPC Jayson Castro, and Finals MVP Ranidel de Ocampo. De Ocampo is suffering from a swollen knee while Castro is recovering from a pulled hamstring. Prized rookie Kevin Alas is also on the injury list. Absentees from Ginebra included the towering frontcourt duo of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, who also missed the team’s opening matchup days ago.

With the win, the Tropang Texters are 1-0, while Ginebra is still without a victory at 0-2.

The Scores:
TNT (95) – Pettigrew 33, Seigle 14, Rosser 13, Daghles 12, Washington 7, Fonacier 6, Carey 5, Miller 5, Williams 0

GIN (91) – Johnson 46, Mercado 13, Tenorio 10, Caguioa 6, Urbiztondo 5, Marcelo 4, Brondial 4, Baracael 3, Peña 0, Helterbrand 0

Quarters: 27-22, 53-48, 72-71, 95-91

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Mixed Martial Arts

Rene Catalan continues rampage with TKO win

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Rene Catalan continues to turn critics into believers

Filipino fighter Rene Catalan made his sixth appearance inside the ONE Championship cage at ONE: Kings of Courage held at the Jakarta Convention Center in Indonesia, Saturday evening. He faced 21-year-old Chinese athlete Peng Xue Wen in the opening main card bout, and leaned on his elite wushu to stop the young star at the 4:22 mark of the second round.

The victory improves Catalan’s record to 4-2 (1 NC), extends his winning streak to four, and gives him the first TKO stoppage of his martial arts career, as he bids to climb the strawweight ladder in search of the ONE Strawweight World Championship.

“The Challenger” came out in the southpaw stance to open the bout, throwing big hooks and a head kick that narrowly missed as he established the center of the cage from the start of the contest.

The Filipino landed a host of powerful strikes, including a perfectly-placed uppercut and a melee of punishing leg kicks, but Peng’s conditioning and composure kept him in the match as he looked to stand and trade with the man 18 years his elder.

Catalan picked up where he left off when the bout resumed in the second round, this time operating out of the orthodox stance, landing more leg kicks and continuing to deny Peng any space to work.

Despite his dominance on the feet, there was a brief moment of concern for the Filipino on the mat when he jumped into the Chinese wrestler’s guard mid-way through the second round, and immediately found himself in a triangle choke. But the Filipino kept his composure and managed to work himself free.

Once the bout returned to the feet, Catalan poured on the pressure in search of a finish, and he got it with just 38 seconds remaining in the stanza.

“The Challenger” scored big with a liver shot, then unloaded a fierce flurry of punches that forced Peng onto his back foot. Another shot forced Peng to the mat, where a salvo of ground and pound from Catalan eventually forced the TKO stoppage as referee Olivier Coste stepped in to halt the contest.

Photo, story, and video from ONE Championship

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Basketball

Gelo Alolino regrets Phoenix’s failure to close out Hotshots

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Photo by PBA Images

But that achievement of his won’t be that memorable, as it went for naught following a 91-97 defeat they had absorbed into the hands of Paul Lee and Magnolia Hotshots, who have now collected their third straight victory.

For the second overall pick in the regular 2016 Rookie Draft, it was all because of their failure to sustain momentum up until the game’s final buzzer.

“Sayang, nandun na. We felt na sa amin na nung dulo kaso lang ganun talaga,” rued the 24-year-old sophomore after the match, where he shot an excellent 7-of-10 from the floor.

“Breaks of the game napunta sa kabila.”

Phoenix was there in contention all through out the match. In fact, they were even ahead, 89-84, with just three minutes left to play. But then, the Hotshots’ comebacking skills were unleashed, leading to the narrow win.

“Siyempre kami lahat nasayangan. Maganda naman yung team effort talaga namin,” expressed the 6-foot floor general of their end-game collapse, which wasted their efforts in assists (21) and on defense, where they forced Magnolia to 21 turnovers.

“Kami as players talagang gusto namin bumawi coming from a loss last game sa Rain or Shine.

The Fuel Masters have now lost their second straight outing and have dropped to 2-3. And for Alolino, all they have to do is learn as much as they can from this loss, especially now that they are about to face Barangay Ginebra next.

“Yun nga. Medyo masakit para sa’min ‘to,” admitted the National University product.

“All we have to do is magviview ulit kami ng tape para makita kung saan kami mas pwede mag-improve as a team and bawat isa — including me.”

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Basketball

Glenn Khobuntin repays Ricky Dandan’s trust with end-game heroics

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FILE Photo from PBA Images

Glenn Khobuntin can finally say that he had himself a moment in the pro ranks

The National University alumnus proved his worth for Kia Picanto, scoring his team’s final six points to steer the often-ridiculed club to its’ first win after a historic 16-game skid at the expense of Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 98-94.

“I knew he would. I knew he would,” lauded Kia head coach Ricky Dandan of the takeover the six-foot-four forward made.

“It was a blessing he didn’t play for the first two quarters because he [came in] fresh at gigil na gigil.”

Khobuntin finished with 11 markers on 5-of-7 shooting — the best game he’s had so far not because of the numbers he posted but with the way he made it. But the three-year pro does not want to take the spotlight all by himself.

“Hindi lang din naman ako e, kami ding lahat e,” the 26-year-old shared. “Siguro kumbaga nagka-opportunity lang, napunta sa akin yung bola kasi yun yung nasa scheme ng play so ayun.

“Thankful lang ako na-hit ko yung mga na-design na plays.”

However, the third-year pro admitted that he got frightened during the game’s final stretch, as Rain or Shine managed to impose a serious threat by coming back from a seven-point deficit, 94-96, with just less than 22 ticks left to play.

“Kinakabahan ako kasi two minutes pa rin yun e tapos Rain or Shine yung kalaban namin,” the native of Cagayan de Oro said. “Nakita ko nakakabalik sila. Thankful lang naman ako na yung game napunta sa amin, at least natapos yung losing streak namin.”

But more than the end of their months-long slump, what Khobuntin is grateful for is the trust given to him by Dandan, who fielded him as a starter in the second half after sitting out the entirety of the first 24 minutes.

“Nag-decide siya na ako yung i-start niya so thankful ako kasi nagtiwala siya sa akin.”

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ABL

Justin Brownlee, Alab lock down Knights for fifth win

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Paying a visit to Indonesia for the first time this season, Tanduay Alab Pilipinas needed time to figure the CLS Knights out before stifling the hosts in the final frame to take a 92-87 road win, Saturday evening at the GOR CLS Kertajaya in Indonesia.

This is Alab’s second straight win after losing to the Singapore Slingers last January 10.

With the win, the Philippine-based club team lifts its slate to 5-4 for solo fourth. CLS, on the other hand, dropped to 1-7 — just half a game ahead of the cellar-dwelling Formosa Dreamers.

Justin Brownlee displayed his all-around brilliance in the game, leading Alab with 36 points on 15-for-24 shooting to go along with eight rebounds, seven assists, and three steals.

Alab’s bench however could not sustain the effort of the starters that led to them clinging to a two-point lead with 7:06 remaining.

Needing a sparkplug, 40-year-old sniper Dondon Hontiveros provided the spark for Alab, knocking down a triple that proved to be the starting point 14-2 Alab run. A jumper by Bobby Ray Parks Jr. with 2:57 left capped the rally and gave Alab an 87-73 lead.

Hontiveros scored five of the eight Alab bench points. Fortunately for Alab, Renaldo Balkman and Bobby Ray Parks Jr. were on-point with the former tallying a double-double with 17 points and 13 rebounds while Alab’s skipper had 14 points, four assists, two rebounds, two steals, and two blocks.

Coach Jimmy Alapag fielded his bench afterwards that resulted to the quintet of Brian Williams, Mario Wuysang, Arif Hidayat, Decorey Jones, and Sandy Kurniawan to slice the lead to as low as four points. Free throws by Oping Sumalinog with eight ticks left put CLS away for good.

Williams paced CLS with 22 points and 14 rebounds while Kurniawan added 19 markers. Indonesian legend Wuysang had 17 points and six rebounds in the loss.

Alab ends its road trip on Sunday, January 28 when they take on the Saigon Heat at the CIS Arena in Ho Chi Minh City.

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