Proving to be the quicker draw in a virtual shootout that lasted from start to finish of a crucial outing between the two most successful franchises of the past four years, the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters marched to their seventh victory in the Philippine Cup after outgunning the Purefoods Star Hotshots, 100-96, Wednesday night at the Araneta Coliseum.
Purefoods took the early edge in the opening quarter, leading by as many as six points, but a late flurry however saw the Tropang Texters manage to force a deadlock shortly before the buzzer, 22-22. The exchange of salvos continued well into the second quarter, and with less than three minutes left in the period, back-to-back treys from Jay Washington gave the Tropang Texters their first taste of the lead, 37-34. Powered by fiery shooting from James Yap and Joe Devance, who combined for 23 first half points, the Hotshots closed out the half holding on to the narrow edge, 42-39.
There were no changes in the pace of the game come the third quarter, with the trigger-happy belligerents relentlessly attacking each other’s baskets and shooting wherever and however they pleased. The Hotshots sat in the driver’s seat in the early moments of the period, leading by as many as six, but a late explosion from rookie Kevin Alas and a couple more big baskets from sharpshooter Ryan Reyes boosted the Tropang Texters to the lead at the end of the third, 69-64.
The fourth quarter saw more deadlocks and lead changes as the firefight raged on. Entering the final two minutes, the score remained locked, but a sneaky lay-in from Mark Barroca gave Purefoods the lead, 86-84. The score remained unchanged after a couple of big defensive stops on both ends of the court after a minute and a half of play with 26.4 ticks left on the clock. Ranidel de Ocampo managed to force another deadlock, finding a way past the Purefoods’ defense to sink one and bring the score to 86-86, 22.1 left one the clock.
Barroca managed to burn 17 seconds off the clock before Talk ‘N Text rookie, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser fouled the Purefoods gunner to give up their last foul and force another possession with 5.6 left to play. Coming off the timeout huddle, the Hotshots found Marc Pingris, who after receiving the inbound pass easily squeezed past the Talk ‘N Text defense to sink one and break the deadlock, 88-86, with 3.2 left on the clock.
But there was no easy end to the battle, as Larry Fonacier found himself in position for the floater and the game-saver on the other end, sinking it with 0.6 seconds remaining to force another deadlock and eventually an overtime period.
A lay-in from Harvey Carey gave the Tropang Texters the two-possession lead entering the final two minutes, 96-92. Joe Devance had the chance to trim the lead in the next possession, but found himself clobbered in his drive to basket, with the ball eventually swatted away by Carey.
After another round of baskets, the lead remained with Talk ‘N Text, 98-96. With less than 30 seconds left to play, two-time MVP Yap tried to force another deadlock via a baseline jumper, but the ball bounced off the rim. Devance corralled the miss, but failed to sink the put-back. After a couple of Purefoods offensive rebounds and failed baskets, Talk ‘N Text captain Jimmy Alapag bagged the board and drew the foul for the Tropang Texters with 6.8 seconds to go. Two successful free-throws gave Talk ‘N Text the two-possession lead and eventually, the win.
De Ocampo took home Player of the Game honors with 18 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 assists off the bench. Washington also added 18 points to the Talk ‘N Text cause. Devance led Purefoods with 22 points.
Talk ‘N Text improves to 7-3 in the standings, safeguarding its spot in the no. 3-6 seeds in the playoffs who will receive twice-to-beat advantages against their opponents. Purefoods meanwhile slides to 5-5, putting its bid for a twice-to-beat advantage on a lifeline.
Nine of the past twelve conferences have been won by either the Purefoods or Talk ‘N Text franchises, five by Purefoods and four by Talk ‘N Text.