Air21 upsets defending champion TnT to fan flickering playoff bid
Cellar-dwellers Air21 Express kept their flickering playoff hopes alive after they stunned the defending champions Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters, 102-100, last night in the 39th PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
Playing against his former team, veteran center Asi Taulva flashed his old deadly form as he came away with 23 points and 18 rebounds to lead the Express’ third win in 12 games.
Although they remain at the bottom of the standings, the Express could still make it to the next round with five teams crowding the fifth to ninth spots.
Barako Bull, Meralco, San Mig, Alaska and GlobalPort all sport 4-7 (win-loss) cards. The Energy Colas were still playing the Petron Blaze Boosters as of this writing.
Talk ‘N Text took a 97-91 lead in the closing minutes but Air21 came back. The Express staged an 8-0 run with Joseph Yeo capping the comeback with a three-point play, giving the Express a 99-97 edge with 35 seconds left.
Following an empty Talk ‘N Text possession, Bonbon Custodio made it a four-point game with two free throws before Jayson Castro sank a three-pointer that brought the Tropang Texters within one, 100-101 with 3.4 seconds left.
Talk ‘N Text sent KG Canaleta to the charity stripe. The high-flying Air21 guard made his first free throw but missed the second attempt. However, Talk ‘N Text failed to secure the defensive rebound allowing Air21 to escape with the all-important win.
Yeo went home with the Best Player of the Game accolade after tallying 13 points, 12 assists and three rebounds.
Castro finished with 21 points to lead the Tropang Texters, who failed in their bid to tie the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at third spot and instead dropped to 7-4.
AIR21 (102) – Taulava 23, Canaleta 16, Custodio 15, Matias 13, Yeo 13, Camson 10, Manuel 8, Cardona 4, Espiritu 0, Arboleda 0, Sharma 0
TALK ‘N TEXT (100)- Castro 21, Alapag 20, De Ocampo 14, Reyes R. 11, Baclao 11, Seigle 8, Fonacier 6, Anthony 4, Reyes J. 3, Carey 2, Williams 0. QUARTERSCORES: 23-21, 45-46, 75-77, 102-100.
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