Texters cruise in Game 3 as Aces lose composure

Talk ‘N Text is not the defending Philippine Cup champion for nothing.

Showing enough poise under duress, the Tropang Texters eked out a 93-79 victory over the Alaska Aces in an emotionally-charged encounter Wednesday night to take a 2-1 series lead in the PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at the MOA Arena.

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Virtually absent in the first two games, Kelly Williams waxed hot all game long with 23 points and 10 rebounds while Larry Fonacier added 21 markers to help the TNT bounce back from an 88-100 defeat last Friday.

“We just have to keep playing and try not to lose our focus as the series goes on,” stressed TNT coach Norman Black. “I thought our defense was much better today. Kelly stepped up and played a big game for us.”

“It’s gonna be a long series and it’s been very competitive, very physical. We just have to be ready for it,” he added.

Sonny Thoss emerged as the lone bright spot for Alaska with 17 points, as teammates Cyrus Baguio and do-it-all rookie Calvin Abueva lost their focus in the highly-physical encounter.

Baguio and Abueva, who came up big in Game 2, were hardly a factor this time, combining for just 17 points before heading to the showers early in the fourth.

By getting involved in separate ugly incidents, the Aces duo is expected to be summoned at the Commissioners’ Office.

With Jimmy Alapag setting up the table and Fonacier and Williams taking turns in doing the damage, the Texters outscored the Aces 25-15 in the second canto for a 39-34 cushion at the break.

TNT sustained its onslaught and padded its cushion at 52-44 before things nearly went ugly. With over seven minutes left, Thoss got entangled with Dillinger in the paint, sparking a heated scuffle where Gabby Espinas also got into the fray.

The former PCU forward was initially sent to the showers for his fighting stance, but game officials recalled him back to the game.

Feeding from that intense play, the Aces charged back with six unanswered points, pulling within 50-52 off a Thoss split charities.

The Texters, however, uncorked a decisive 17-3 surge, pulling away with a commanding 69-53 lead, with Harvey Carey scoring seven big points.

TNT re-posted that big lead at 80-64 off a Raindel de Ocampo triple before Abueva and Baguio vented their frustration on Castro.

After the TNT guard made a floater for an 82-68 lead, Abueva threw a wayward slap on his neck, causing his ejection at the 6:45 mark.

Less than a minute later, Baguio then whacked a speeding Castro in what was supposed to be an unmolested lay-up. The Aces guard incurred a flagrant foul penalty 2 for an automatic ejection.

Espinas also fouled out with 4:31 to go, finishing with just six points.

As Alaska broke down, Talk ‘N Text collectively kept its emotion in check as the Texters hung tough until the final buzzer.

“Jayson took a pretty good hit on that break but that's part of basketball and part of the series. No team will back down. Hopefully we just stay focused and concentrate on basketball,” added Black.

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