The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters held on to the no. 3 spot in the standings, getting much needed help from the lightning-quick Jason Castro to sail past the still winless Blackwater Elite, 90-80, Saturday evening in Biñan City, Laguna.
Castro, the national team standout had 21 points and 6 rebounds to take home Player of the Game honors. The former Philippine Christian University star also excelled on the defensive end, forcing turnovers to disrupt the Elite’s offensive flow.
The Tropang Texters paced the competition for most of the first quarter, forcing the Elite to misfire in the opening minutes. The league newcomers’ fortunes finally turned late in the quarter, overtaking for the first time in the game after a Chris Timberlake triple gave the Elite the 17-16 lead with two minutes left on the clock. Both teams failed to score in the remaining possessions, and the score remained unchanged at the end of the twelve minutes.
It was Talk ‘N Text however who got back the upper hand in the second period. A 10-0 rally in the second quarter initiated by back-to-back treys from team captain Jimmy Alapag saw the Tropang Texters pull away to lead by as many as eleven points late in the quarter. A buzzer-beating triple from another veteran, fleet-footed bigman Danny Seigle, gave the Tropang Texters a commanding 46-32 lead entering the halftime break.
Things only got worse for the Elite in the third quarter, with the Tropang Texters sinking basket after basket, leading by as many as 22. Undaunted, Brian Faundo and Eddie Laure collaborated to start a rally that trimmed the Tropang Texters’ lead to as little as 10 in the final two minutes of the quarter. A split free-throw charity from Robby Celiz shortly before the buzzer capped off a 15-2 run by Blackwater, who exited the third quarter trailing by a manageable 57-66.
The lead however stayed in double digits for most of the fourth quarter, with Talk ‘N Text continuing to outgun the Elite and denying them any chance at mounting the much-needed major comeback. The Tropang Texters still led by 10 entering the final two minutes, 88-78, and a Castro fastbreak lay-up in the final minute proved to be the final nail in the coffin.
The Tropang Texters improve to 6-3, solo third as of this writing. The no. 1 spot is currently shared by the Alaska Aces and the San Miguel Beermen at 8-1, while the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters occupy the no. 2 spot at 6-2. Expansion team Blackwater meanwhile slides to 0-10, winless since joining the league at the start of the conference. They were eliminated from playoff contention last week after being routed by the Barako Bull Energy Cola.