Big plays from their two imports in the fourth quarter gave the injury-plagued Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters the means to pull away from the likewise shorthanded Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, who exploded for a massive last minute run late in the quarter, and later emerge with the 95-91 victory Sunday evening at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Huge baskets from their frontcourt helped Talk ‘N Text take control in the first quarter, building a 13-4 lead in the early half of the period. Down by nine with around five minutes left, import Orlando Johnson and new acquisition Solomon Mercado from Ginebra put together an 11-4 blitz that cut the lead to a single possession, 22-24, with just around a minute left on the clock. Three points from a split charity and a layup from Danny Seigle helped the Tropang Texters escape with the 27-22 lead at the end of the quarter.
TNT held on to the steady lead come the second quarter, and with four minutes left built up another double-digit lead, 48-37, following baskets from their two imports. However, the lead was easily trimmed by a literal last minute blitz by Orlando Johnson and LA Tenorio, who collaborated for nine unanswered points all in the final minute and a half of the period. At the half, TNT led 53-48.
Two straight buckets from Johnson gave Ginebra its first taste of the lead early in the second half, 55-54. Ginebra stayed nipping at the Tropang Texters’ heels for most of the quarter, with American Steffphon Pettigrew holding the fort for TNT and keeping in control of the pace. At the end of the quarter’s fiery exchange, TNT led by a thread, 72-71.
Another heated trade of salvos greeted the fourth quarter, with Ginebra continuing their push for the lead. Consecutive baskets from Johnson gave Ginebra a taste of the lead, 84-83 around the halfway mark of the final period. But the TNT bigs at the other end delivered the goods, with Pettigrew, Seigle, and Jordanian Sam Daghles all hitting baskets to give TNT a much needed 91-84 lead just before the two-minute announcement.
Following a series of crucial misses by the Gin Kings, it was Daghles who struck with the dagger, sinking a jumper with a minute and half left on the clock to grab the nine-point lead for the Tropang Texters. A free throw from the other import Pettigrew made it a ten-point game, 94-84.
Regardless, the Gin Kings squeezed out another late push to save the game, with two free throws from Mercado and a triple and two charities from Josh Urbiztondo trimming the margin to three, 94-91, with just 21.3 left on the clock.
After drawing the foul and burning away some time off the clock, TNT gunner Larry Fonacier split two free throws with 11 seconds left to make it a two-possession game, 95-91. No one from Ginebra could convert in the short time remaining on the clock, and at the buzzer, it was the Tropang Texters who walked away with the win.
Veteran Danny Seigle was named Player of the Game with 14 points and 3 rebounds. TNT imports Pettigrew and Daghles also stood out in their Governor’s Cup debut. Pettigrew led the scoring with 33 points while Daghles had 12, hitting big shots in the pivotal final period. Import Johnson had 46 big points to lead Ginebra.
Talk ‘ N Text was without the men who led them to championship gold just weeks ago- Commissioner’s Cup BPC Jayson Castro, and Finals MVP Ranidel de Ocampo. De Ocampo is suffering from a swollen knee while Castro is recovering from a pulled hamstring. Prized rookie Kevin Alas is also on the injury list. Absentees from Ginebra included the towering frontcourt duo of Greg Slaughter and Japeth Aguilar, who also missed the team’s opening matchup days ago.
With the win, the Tropang Texters are 1-0, while Ginebra is still without a victory at 0-2.
TNT (95) – Pettigrew 33, Seigle 14, Rosser 13, Daghles 12, Washington 7, Fonacier 6, Carey 5, Miller 5, Williams 0
GIN (91) – Johnson 46, Mercado 13, Tenorio 10, Caguioa 6, Urbiztondo 5, Marcelo 4, Brondial 4, Baracael 3, Peña 0, Helterbrand 0
Quarters: 27-22, 53-48, 72-71, 95-91