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Castro’s heroics help Texters escape massive Road Warriors surge for third straight win



Squandering a seemingly insurmountable lead while parading a new reinforcement in Ivan Johnson, the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters managed to pull off a squeaker over the NLEX Road Warriors, 98-96, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday.

Johnson quickly started scoring with five points to establish himself early in the game. The Texters then dictated the momentum scoring-wise, as they built a quick edge against the Road Warriors. In the middle of the opening canto, the Texters fired in three-straight triples to mount a 9-2 run, which gave them a seven-point lead.

Despite a fast 5-0 counter by the Road Warriors, the half-court sets of the Texters were prevalent as they were able to distance themselves by double digits late in the first quarter. With NLEX unable to find their shots, Ranidel de Ocampo finished off the opening quarter with another triple just before the buzzer to widen the gap.

The substitutes came in and continued the rhythm brought on by Talk ‘N Text as key buckets from them helped the Texters maintain the lead, and even boost it to as high as 29, 61-32. With Asi Taulava making his presence felt inside, the Road Warriors built an 8-1 response to trim the deficit and gather momentum heading into halftime. However, Larry Fonacier found Willie Miller through a sneaky inbound play plus a foul to give the Texters a 25-point lead heading into the break.

The first six minutes of the second half saw an exchange of baskets from both squads as the Road Warriors had a hard time staying on par with the Texters’ fiery shooting from the field. The next half of the quarter, however, the Road Warriors managed to contain the Texters defensively as they outscored them by nine points in the next minutes to trim the gap down to 18 entering the payoff period.

The duo of KG Canaleta and Jonas Villanueva anchored the offense for NLEX in the opening part of the fourth as they scored nine of the first 11 points of the team to pull within 10. De Ocampo and Johnson scored on quick baskets to stop the bleeding, but a furious counter was put up by the Road Warriors as they romped up another 10-0 run to make it a 96-93 encounter. NLEX import Thornton drained in three crucial free throws on the succeeding plays including a technical shot to tie things up at 96.

With nine seconds remaining, Jayson Castro nailed in the game-winner with a long two to give the Texters the upperhand as time expired.

The win gives the Texters a 5-1 slate to hold solo second in the standings. After dismantling the Blackwater Elite on Tuesday, the Road Warriors succumbed to absorb their fourth defeat in the tournament and slide to a 1-4 record.

The Texters will next face the rising Kia Carnival squad on Wednesday, 4:15 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. On the other hand, NLEX will battle it out against San Miguel for their next assignment on Tuesday, 4:15 to be played at the Cuneta Astrodome.

The scores:
Talk ‘N Text(98) – Johnson 32, Castro 16, De Ocampo 13, Miller 9, Ganuelas-Rosser 9, Carey 6, Aban 5, Alas 4, Fonacier 2, Reyes R.J. 2.

NLEX (96) – Thornton 37, Villanueva J. 13, Ramos 10, Cardona 9, Canaleta 8, Taulava 6, Arboleda H. 5, Villanueva E. 3, Baloria 3, Lingganay 2, Hermida 0, Arboleda W. 0, Borboran 0.

Quarters: 32-19, 65-40, 89-71, 98-96