After leading for most of the game, the Mahindra Enforcers could not make the necessary stops in the fourth quarter as Jayson Castro and the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters notched their first win of the 2015-16 Smart Bro Philippine Cup, 101-97, Saturday afternoon at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
The game between the two squads started sluggish as both teams settled for jumpshots. Midway through the first quarter and with the Tropang Texters up 10-8, Mahindra’s rookie big man Bradwyn Guinto was able to match-up against the imposing frontline of their opponents. The Enforcers were able to keep close in the opening quarter up until Ryan Reyes gained the hot hand to close -out the opening stanza. Reyes drained two three-pointers in a 6-1 run to close out the quarter with Talk ‘N Text up 24-19.
Spitfire guard LA Revilla opened the second quarter with a triple to cut the Texter lead to just two. Just as the Enforcers were looking to take over the game, Asia’s best point guard Jayson Castro went into a zone to score seven straight points that gave the Texters a 33-29 lead with 7:29 to go in the quarter. The Mahindra defense though would focus on Castro . With Castro at bay, the TNT offense became stagnant while the Enforcers surged to a 14-2 blast. Chito Jaime was able to connect on a three-pointer during the rally while Guinto had four points and four boards to give the second year team a 42-35 lead. A three-pointer by Larry Fonacier stopped the rally while rookies Mo Tautuaa and Rosario anchored the defense. A Jaime jumper with two seconds remaining gave Mahindra a 53-47 to enter the break.
Both teams struggled from the field once more to open the second half of the game. Free throws by Castro opened the scoring for the half sparked a 6-0 rally for TNT to tie the game at 53-all. After gaining a momentary lead, the Texters were outhuslted by the Enforcers. Moreover, Mahindra’s John Pinto and Paolo Hubalde connected with their long range shots that helped their team gain a a 71-63 lead with 2:40 to go in the third canto. Veteran Harvey Carey though provided the much-needed energy for the Blue-and-Yellow squad as he provided the energy plays on the defensive end while crashing the boards as well. A three-pointer by Matt Ganuelas-Rosser with two ticks to go cut the lead Mahindra lead to just a solitary point to enter the final frame, 88-87.
Tautuaa opened the final quarter with a huge three-point play to open the fourth quarter. After a Mark Yee jumpshot, Tautuaa raced to the floor and was able to dunk the ball on the other end to the roar of the Mall of Asia crowd. The Enforcers though remained unfazed as three-pointers by Revilla and KG Canaleta gave Mahindra an 88-84 lead at the 6:44 mark. Castro then drove through the lanes and used his athleticism to score on an and-one to lead the TNT comeback and give his team a 90-88 lead with 5:09 remaining. Another three-pointer by Fonacier and a jumper by Rosario extended the lead to five. Revilla, who had been hounded by Ryan Reyes for the entire fourth quarter, converted on a clutch three-point play that cut the TNT lead to just two 99-97 with a minute to go. An excellent defensive stand by the Chito Victolero-mentored squad led to a miss by Ryan Reyes and Victolero called his final timeout to set a play. The experienced Texters squad did not falter on the defensive end as Reyes denied Revilla a shot that forced KG Canaleta to miss a desperation three-pointer. Free throws by Jai Reyes sealed the first win of the season for the Texters, 101-97.
Jayson Castro was not surprised that the young Mahindra Enforcers squad went toe-to-toe with them in saying, “they’re doing a good job on offense. Kami naman, we were not communicating well on defense.” He added that they need to improve on the defensive end during the break. “Sa offense wala kaming problema e pero sa defense naliligaw pa rin kami.”
Head coach Jong Uichico shared the same sentiment in saying that “we still have a long way to go.” He cited that his prized rookies, Rosario and Tautuaa, still need the time to gel with the team. “It will take us some time to get to the groove. We made the sacrifice of sending our players to Gilas.”
Castro led all scorers with 28 points on 8/15 shooting. He was 10/14 from the charity stripe while knocking down two-three pointers. Tautuaa and Rosario each scored 12 markers with the Fil-Tongan adding six boards while the former NU Bulldogs grabbing five.
For the Enforcers, LA Revilla almost notched a double-double with 21 points and nine boards. Rookie Bradwyn Guinto continued to prove that he was a second round steal in notching a huge double-double with 17 points and 13 boards.
Both squads shot 40% from the field. The inexperienced Mahindra squad though conceded 34 fouls that led to 40 free throw attempts for the Tropang Texters. Talk ‘N Text made 75% of their free throws.
The Tropang Texters (1-1) will have a long break before returning to the hardcourts on Wednesday, Novermber 11 against sister team Meralco Bolts at the PhilSports Arena. Game will be played at 4:15pm. The Mahindra Enforcers (0-2) will face the Alaska Aces (2-0) on Friday, November 6 in Dubai, UAE.
Talk ‘N Text (101) – Castro 28, Tautuaa 12, Rosario 12, Fonacier 11, Reyes R. 10, Reyes J. 8, Carey 6, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, Seigle 3, Miranda 3, Rodriguez 0, Aban 0.
Mahindra (97) – Revilla 21, Guinto 17, Ramos 13, Jaime 12, Hubalde 8, Pinto 8, Canaleta 7, Bagatsing 5, Yee 4, Webb 2, Alvarez 0, Laure 0.
Quarterscores: 24-19, 47-53, 87-88, 101-97.