The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters are back on track in their Commissioner’s Cup finals campaign, after stunning performances from Ranidel de Ocampo and Jayson Castro successfully dismantling the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in a fiery Game 4 that saw three ejections and a massive bench-clearing en route to the crucial 99-92 victory, Wednesday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
What would turn out to be a heated first half affair opened to a fiery trade of baskets between the two squads. The Tropang Texters enjoyed a 7-2 start early in the first quarter, but lost the advantage when big baskets from Raymond Almazan and Ryan Araña paved the way for a 10-10 deadlock halfway throughout the quarter. The trade of baskets would continue for the remainder of the quarter, with a Paul Lee jumper giving Rain or Shine a 16-14 lead. It was, however, short lived as a triple from Jayson Castro in the dying seconds gave TNT the 17-16 lead at the end of the quarter.
A sparked Ranidel de Ocampo helped the Tropang Texters lead by as many as six in the opening minutes of the second. However, a 6-0 flurry around the halfway point put together by Paul Lee and Jireh Ibañes was just what the Elasto Painters needed to steal the lead, 32-30. Moreover, the lead exchanged hands several minutes in the final few minutes of the first half. At the end of another heated twelve minutes, the Tropang Texters held on to the lead, 42-41. Both teams shot below 40% from the field in the half, TNT having shot 36.8% and RoS 37.2%.
It was the Tropang Texters who came in strong as the second half unfolded, with baskets from Ivan Johnson and de Ocampo paving the way for a 47-41 lead. Commotion erupted for the umpteenth time in the series when Rain or Shine’s Ryan Araña and Talk ‘N Text’s Harvey Carey were handed technical fouls following a brief altercation. The Tropang Texters kept momentum on their side and took advantage of foul-plagued Wayne Chism’s continued absence from the court, and with around seven minutes left to play, a 7-0 rally put together by Johnson, de Ocampo, and Castro paved the way for the first double-digit lead of the game, 59-49. The Tropang Texters led by as many as 13 points in the next few minutes of play. Sparked by the re-inserted Chism and Chris Tiu, the Elasto Painters were able to trim the lead to six, 61-67, late in the quarter. At the end of the quarter, however, the Tropang Texters still led, 74-66.
Still hot from the previous quarter’s late flurry, Wayne Chism knocked down four straight points to come within four, 70-74, early in the fourth. The run, unfortunately, was extinguished by a triple from TNT’s Castro to make it a seven-point game.
Unfortunately, Chaos erupted anew when Elasto Painter, Ibañes, and rookie Tropang Texter, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, found themselves tangled up following a collision. Ibañes’ teammate, JR Quiñahan, came to his teammate’s defense, prompting players from both benches to storm out of the court. Ibañes and Ganuelas-Rosser were both ejected from the game, while Quiñahan was slapped a flagrant 2 and an ejection for throwing a ball at Ganuelas Rosser. Officials restrained various parties from both squads from showing any more signs of aggression. The lead was with TNT when the free-for-all took place, 82-72.
Showing no signs of being rattled by the increased physicality, the Tropang Texters held on to the double digit for the next few minutes of play, draining one for every bucket sunk by Elasto Painter Chris Tiu, who kept the spark alive for RoS. With two minutes left on the clock, TNT still led by double digits, 94-83. A triple from Ranidel de Ocampo with around half a minute left to play made it a fourteen-point game. Back to back triples from Elasto Painters Lee and Tiu, on the other end, made it a single-digit affair, 89-97, with just a minute left to play. A layup from Jayson Castro following a series of big stops sealed the deal for the Tropang Texters.
Ranidel de Ocampo was named Best Player of the Game with 33 points, 5 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Newly-crowned Best Player of the Conference, Jayson Castro, had 25 points off 5-of-9
Chris Tiu led the Elasto Painters with 21 points off the bench. Rain or Shine’s Chism, the newly-crowned Best Import of the Conference, was held to 13 points in 27 minutes of play, having spent extended minutes in the bench after picking up four fouls in the first half. The series, which resumes on Friday night, is at 2-2.
TNT (99) – De Ocampo 33, Castro 25, Johnson 19, Fonacier 10, Washington 4, Alas 4, Williams 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2
RoS (92) – Tiu 21, Lee 17, Chism 13, Almazan 13, Araña 8, Ibañes 6, Jervy Cruz 4, Uyloan 3, Norwood 3, Belga 2, Quiñahan 2, Jericho Cruz 0, Tang 0.
Quarters: 17-16, 42-41, 74-66, 99-92