A team that has gone through several tough battles doesn’t panic easily.
That’s what the defending champions Talk N Text Tropang Texters showed last night when they survived the endgame charge of the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters to pull off an, 87-81 victory in Game 1 of their best-of-seven finals of the 38th PBA Philippine Cup at the packed Araneta Coliseum.
The Texters led by as many as 18 points in the first half but saw their advantage cut down to just three points in the closing minutes in the game witnessed by more than 14,000 paying patrons.
The Texters, who are in their sixth finals appearance in seven conferences and gunning for a third straight All-Filipino crown, weathered the Rain or Shine rally with timely hits and crucial defensive stops.
Talk N Text surged to a 77-62 lead early in the fourth but was limited to just one field goal by Rain or Shine that saw the Painters rallying within 76-79 in the final 3:15.
The Texters got a little breathing room when Larry Fonacier knocked in a three-pointer that gave his team an 82-76 lead with 2:51 left.
Jeff Chan’s basket made it a four-point game, 78-82, and Rain or Shine had the chance to make it a two-point contest but Paul Lee missed a fastbreak layup.
Jayson Cstro made Rain or Shine pay for bungling that crucial play as he converted a stretching layup in the next play, restoring a six-point Talk N Text advantage, 84-78, with 1:51 remaining.
A split free throw by Gabe Norwood trimmed Talk N Text’s lead to five but the Painters became erratic in the dying seconds with Paul Lee missing a point-blank attempt and Chan losing the ball with 32.6 seconds left in the clock.
Jimmy Alapag nailed two free throws in the final 22.9 seconds as Talk N Text took a safe, 86-79 advantage.
Castro and Ranidel De Ocampo led the way for the Texters with 16 points each, while Jared Dillinger finished with 13. Four other Texters have at least six markers.
Jervy Cruz paced the Painters with 13 markers, while Lee and Chan added 11 and 10 markers, respectively.
TALK N TEXT (87)- Castro 16, De Ocampo 16, Dillinger 13, Fonacier 9, Alapag 9, Peek 8, Williams 6, Raymundo 3, Reyes 3, Alvarez 2, Carey 2, Gamalinda 0, Aban 0, Ferriols 0.
RAIN OR SHINE (81)- Cruz 13, Lee 11, Chan 10, Norwood 8, Rodriguez 8, Quñahan 8, Tiu 5, Belga 5, Ibanes 4, Matias 3, Arana 3, Tang 3. QUARTERSCORES: 24-15, 51-39, 71-58, 87-81.