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Tiebreaker Times

Howell anchors fourth quarter offense for TNT to pull away against pesky Blackwater

The Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters notched their second victory of the conference, using a huge fourth quarter to score an 86-78 win over Blackwater Elite at the Alonte Sports Center in Biñan, Laguna. The Elite have now lost 13 straight games.

Blackwater started the game with three consecutive mid-range jumpers to give themselves the early 6-0 lead. The Elite’s zone defense enabled Talk ‘N Text to shoot from the perimeter, but Jayson Castro’s trey was their lone field goal in almost six minutes of play. After a timeout, the Texters forced the Elite to a turnover around the baseline and back-to-back triples from Castro and Ranidel De Ocampo found the bottom of the net to trim the lead.

The Texters managed to tie the game for the first time at 13. After an exchange of baskets, Marcus Douthit was doubled, leading to a turnover which Castro used for an and-one play with a fastbreak layup to give Talk ‘N Text their first lead. Eleven of the 19 first quarter points of Talk ‘N Text were scored by Castro as they ended the opening frame up by two, 19-17.

Val Acuña and Jay Washington exchanged long-ranged heaves to start the second period. The teams piled up the lead changes and deadlocks, both squads locking horns tight at the start of the second quarter. With Richard Howell denying entry passes to Douthit inside, Willie Miller converted on two scoop shots to give Talk ‘N Text a 32-26 advantage.

Another deadlock occurred when Acuña and Rob Celis each drained a triple thanks to Blackwater’s good ball movement, but an and-one play from Howell and Castro’s fastbreak basket gave the Texters a fast five-point lead anew. Talk ‘N Text ended the first 24 minutes up by two, 41-39.

The lead exchanges and ties continued in the start of the second half as both squads made multiple conversions from the field. After a thunderous follow-up slam by Kelly Williams, Blackwater countered with an 11-4 run to lead by nine. The Elite, who were missing the services of their reinforcement in their first game of the conference, improved their defense thanks to Douthit’s presence inside. Byran Faundo scored a bucket to beat the buzzer and the Elite entered the final quarter with the lead, 66-60.

The Texters crawled back with six unanswered points capped by a Castro fastbreak to tie things up once again. Talk ‘N Text used quick offense to rattle the Elite defense as the see-saw battle resumed in the fourth. Import Howell started to make noise in the fourth with crucial inside stabs to aid the Texters.

Howell’s putback plus Aaron Aban’s fastbreak layup gave Talk ‘N Text a 75-71 lead. From that point, a surge of baskets extended the lead to double digits for the Texters. Blackwater made the game interesting with a 7-0 run to trim the deficit to six. However, the Texters made the right stops and sealed the game with critical baskets late.

Howell led Talk ‘N Text with 29 points, 21 coming in the fourth period including 21 rebounds and five assists.

“We played hard and we played defense,” said Howell in terms of the fourth quarter separation. “I got good teammates that can put the ball [in] the basket and I’m just here to get the rebounds,” he added.

Talk ‘N Text will next face Meralco on Wednesday, Feb. 4 at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum while Blackwater looks to bounce back against Purefoods on Friday.

The scores:

TALK N’ TEXT 88 – Howell 29, Castro 22, Washington 8, Alas 8, Miller 8, De Ocampo 7, Carey 2, Williams 2, Aban 2, Labagala 0, Fonacier 0, Espiritu 0, Reyes 0.

BLACKWATER 78 – Faundo 19, Douthit 14, Acuna 12, Heruela 10, Celiz 7, Timberlake 5, Gamalinda 5, Reyes 4, Erram 2, Austria 0, Laure 0, Ballesteros 0, Bulawan 0, Ciriacruz 0.

Quarterscores: 19-17, 41-39, 60-66, 86-78

Photo by Nuki Sabio

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