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Talk ‘N Text stuns Rain or Shine; draws first blood in finals

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Game 1 of the Commissioner’s Cup finals goes to the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, who made the right stops to slow down the usually fiery Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and escape with the 99-92 victory, Wednesday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.

As expected, the first quarter opened to a trade of triples on both ends of the court. Powered by Jason Castro and Larry Fonacier, the Tropang Texters took hold of the early advantage, leading by as much as seven points in the quarter after effectively slowing the Elasto Painters down. It was Paul Lee and Wayne Chism who sparked Rain or Shine back to life, collaborating for five unanswered points to take the lead, 20-19, with five minutes left on the clock. Ranidel de Ocampo responded by kicking off a 6-0 flurry that helped Talk ‘N Text pace the game once more, 25-20 within the next two minutes. The Tropang Texters were able to hold off the Elasto Painters for a little bit more, holding them to only three more points in the last three minutes of the game to take the 28-23 edge.

TNT would continue to pace the contest early in the second quarter, building a 36-26 lead following baskets from Matt Ganuelas-Rosser and Kelly Williams. Once again, Talk ‘N Text’s stifling defense forced the Elasto Painters to fumble offensively, putting up only six points in the first seven minutes of the game. Sparked by big baskets from Paul Lee and Jeff Chan, the Elasto Painters were able to bring the lead back to single digits, 38-46, with less than two minutes left on the clock. At the half, the lead was still with Talk ‘N Text, 49-41.

The second half opened more misery for Rain or Shine. Jeff Chan was taken out of the game after complaining of pain in his leg, and unable to find an answer for the Talk ‘N Text salvo, the Elasto Painters were behind by double digits once again, trailing by as many as thirteen in the first few minutes of the third quarter. Despite foul troubles from Ivan Johnson and a resurgent Raymond Almazan leading the charge for Rain or Shine, the Tropang Texters managed to hold on to the lead. Unfortunately, a commotion broke out with less than four minutes left in the quarter when Johnson bumped into Rain or Shine head coach Yeng Guiao, who was standing by near the court when Johnson passed by. Though tempers would flare for a while, luckily, no punches were thrown. Johnson was slapped a technical foul for the collision. Baskets from Lee and Wayne Chism in the last two minutes of the quarter cut the lead to the six at the end of the quarter, 76-70.

A returning Jeff Chan along with Chris Tiu brought the Elasto Painters within five, 73-78, but were answered on the other end by a trey from Kevin Alas and a free throw from Jay Washington. Despite another salvo from the Tropang Texters, the resurgent Rain or Shine frontcourt kept the spark alive in the fiery second half of the quarter. The Elasto Painters, however, lost enforcer Beau Belga with around three minutes left to play after receiving his sixth foul coming from a hard foul on TNT’s Ivan Johnson. Furthermore, the Tropang Texters continued to deny the Elasto Painters the right baskets to get into striking distance, and with two minutes left, they led 93-84.

A triple from Jayson Castro made it a double-digit lead once more, 96-86 with a minute and a half left on the clock. A three-point play from Ranidel de Ocampo put the icing on the cake for the Tropang Texters, who later walked away with the victory. Ranidel de Ocampo was named Best Player of the Game with 24 points, going 10 of 11 from the free throw line.

With the win, the Tropang Texters have the 1-0 edge in the finals series, which resumes Friday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Quarters: 28-23, 49-41, 76-70, 93-84

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