A dominant first half for the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters was enough to settle their dispute against the young Barako Bull, and eliminate the seventh seed with a 127-97 victory held at the Mall of Asia Arena on Saturday.
Energy Cola went blank on three of their first few possessions as those ended in turnovers, and went in favor of the Texters. Jason Castro played the passing lanes, and finished a fast break play for an early 10-4 lead and his seventh point of the match. Moreover, Castro continued to sizzle with back-to-back triples in the middle of the opening period to create an early 23-10 separation.
Ivan Johnson was also on a hot streak during the first quarter, as he punched in four triples that widened the gap to a 22-point barrier, 40-18. The duo of Johnson and Castro alone outscored Barako Bull, 30-23 as the Tropang Texters had a booming 45-point blast in the first 12 minutes.
With both teams playing all-Filipino in the start of the second, Barako Bull had a fast 7-4 run to try get their offensive groove in the game. However, a quick breather by Johnson helped him pick up right where he left off during the opening period. He knocked down two more triples, as the Energy Cola defenders kept giving him the needed air space to shoot from downtown.
The scoring spree continued for the Tropang Texters club despite several changes in the defensive strategy by Barako, TNT kept on pounding the rock, while keeping the ball moving to find the open man. They finished the first half with an astonishing 75-point outburst, including 11 shots from the 3-point territory and 63% shooting overall.
The 30 plus point spread was reduced down to 22 points, 80-58, as JC Intal hit three straight triples in the opening rally by Barako Bull to start the third quarter. Off a timeout late in the quarter, three straight perimeter jumpers including two three pointers by Ranidel de Ocampo and Larry Fonacier helped the Texters reinstall a 31-point lead, and reach the century mark with more than a full quarter to play.
The last period was a full 12-minutes of garbage time basketball as the subs were fielded in for Talk ‘N Text, and Johnson sitting out the entire quarter. Still, the locals were able to provide the necessary baskets for the Tropang Texters, including scores from Harvey Carey and Danny Siegle to add on their offensive juggernaut.
The Texters ended the game shooting 54% compared to Barako’s 41%. They also drained in 13 more triples, 17-4, and was clearly the distinctive statline in the win.
Five players for TNT finished in double figures led by Johnson’s 35, including six triples in addition to his 15 rebounds. Castro had 18 markers and 7 dimes.
The Texters await the winner between the best-of-three affair between Purefoods and Alaska, wherein the Star Hotshots hold a 1-0 lead and will play Game 2 of their series tomorrow night.
Talk ‘N Text (127) – Johnson 35, Castro 18, De Ocampo 16, Ganuelas-Rosser 12, Fonacier 10, Alas 8, Seigle 8, Washington 5, Williams 4, Espiritu 3, Reyes 2, Aban 2, Carey 2, Labagala 2
Barako Bull (97) – Alabi 23, Intal 21, Lanete 13, Pascual 12, Marcelo 6, Garcia 6, Lastimosa 6, Mercado 4, Hubalde 3, Salvador 2,
Quarters: 45-23, 75-44, 101-73, 127-97
*Photo by Nuki Sabio