49 points, 10 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks from the ever-reliable Denzel Bowles was just what the Purefoods Star Hotshots needed to outgun the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters in crunch time and escape with the 100-94 victory in Game 1 of their semifinals series on Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The first quarter was dominated by Purefoods, with no other than Denzel Bowles leading the charge. The lead changed hands in the first few baskets, but the Hotshots took control three minutes into the game after a couple of baskets from Bowles and Marc Pingris, helped them build a 12-4 lead. With Bowles sinking basket after basket from everywhere he pleased, the lead would grow to double digits shortly before the halfway mark of the quarter. At the end of the first twelve, Purefoods was up 33-17. Bowles exited the period having outscored the entirety of TNT with 18 points off 9-of-10 shooting.
Baskets from Kevin Alas and Jay Washington cut the lead to twelve in the opening minutes of the period, 21-33. A reinvigorated Bowles teamed up with Justin Melton to stifle the brewing Talk ‘N Text run. Just before the halfway point of the quarter, Purefoods led by a still staggering 41-23. It was Jason Castro who provided the spark the Tropang Texters needed. With just around three minutes left, the Gilas standout exploded for seven unanswered points that cut the lead to ten. 35-45. The Star Hotshots were able to fire back in time to pad the lead just in time for the halftime break, 51-36. Talk ‘N Text were held to 33.3% FG shooting and a dismal 2-of-15 from the three-point line. Bowles at the halftime break had 29 points.
Another explosive start from their prized import pushed towed Purefoods to a 21-point lead early in the second half, 62-41. Frontliners Ivan Johnson and Ranidel de Ocampo responded with big baskets to come within sixteen, 53-69. With top defender Marc Pingris subbed out due to a low-grade sprain, the Hotshots’ once staggering lead would be cut down to single digits late in the quarter. Big basket after big basket from TNT’s Castro cut the deficit to eight, 64-72, with just around two minutes left on the clock. A triple from import Johnson cut the lead to five shortly after, 67-72. PJ Simon rose to the occassion for Purefoods, capping off a late flurry that extended the lead to eleven shortly before the buzzer, 81-70.
Still hot from the previous quarter’s rally, the Tropang Texters would continue to sink the right baskets to cut the lead. A trey from Ranidel de Ocampo three minutes into the final period cut the lead to a single digit, 83-84. A bucket from Bowles on the other end stymied the rally for Purefoods. The Hotshots would hold on to the steady lead in the ensuing back-and-forth affair, and with two minutes left they led 93-87.
Two free throws from Matt Ganuelas-Rosser brought TNT to within four, 89-93, with around a minute and a half left to play. Purefoods however put up a series of big stops in the next few possessions, and with around a minute left, a layup by James Yap extended the lead to six. With 48 seconds left to play, a tip in by Barroca. The Purefoods needed only to slow the Tropang Texters down and sink a couple of free throws to ice the win.
Bowles was named Best Player of the Game for his performance. Ivan Johnson led Talk ‘N Text week 33 points. Purefoods now has the 1-0 advantage in their semifinal series.
Bowles 49, Yap 18, Mallari 8, Pingris 6, Simon 5, Barroca 4, Devance 3, Melton 3, Reavis 2, Maliksi 2
Talk ‘N Text
Johnson 33, Castro 19, de Ocampo 15, Fonacier 9, Alas 9, Ganuelas-Rosser 7, Washington 2
Quarters: 33-17, 51-36, 81-70, 100-94
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