TNT slams Ginebra
Talk ‘N Text 102 vs. Ginebra 83
by rick olivares
April 27, 2011
As Rudy Hatfield made his entrance during the pre-game team introductions of Game 1 of the Commissioner’s Cup Finals, the animated Ginebra forward channeled pro wrestler Triple H by spreading his arms and spraying water from his mouth.
The wrestling reference wasn’t far off as the game was a tough affair with a few skirmishes here and there. When it was all over, the crowd favorites had been body slammed by Talk ‘N Text.
But not without the Gin Kings trying to make a game out of it. Or at least they tried.
At the 3:55 mark of the second quarter, Talk ‘N Text import Paul Harris picked off a pass and ran the middle of a three-on-one fastbreak with only Ginebra guard Rob Labagala on defense. Instead of passing the ball to Larry Fonacier who was ahead on the left or to Jimmy Alapag who was a couple of steps behind on the right wing, Harris opted to go all the way. Except that Labagala played him well and the American botched the drive and he crashed out of the bounds.
What had the makings of a sure two points that would have hiked the lead to 14 instead turned the momentum around for Barangay Ginebra that moments earlier was reeling from the Tropang Texters’ onslaught. The Kings closed out the first half on a 15-2 tear that gave them a one-point lead, 47-46, following a Mark Caguioa trey at the buzzer.
“Turnovers,” pointed out TNT head coach Chot Reyes who was gunning for his seventh overall PBA title and third with the Pangilinan franchise. “We have to take better care of the ball.”
The game plan wasn’t simply hinged on taking care of the ball. It was denying Ginebra reinforcement Nate Brumfield from driving to the basket. TNT noticed that Smart Gilas paid the price for giving the Oklahoma Baptist University guard space to drive. “We wanted to deny him that first step,” said Reyes. “Or else, you can give Ginebra two automatic points.”
Brumfield shot a measly 25% from the field as he was oft forced to pass. When he did get up for a shot, there were one two defenders on him who swatted a couple of shots away.
Early on it was Mike Cortez whose drives inside the lane wreaked havoc on Talk ‘N Text. When the Cool Cat was cooled off it was JC Intal’s turn (until he was wrongly subbed) to try and lead his team. Then it was left to the Man… Mark Caguioa who for long stretches seemed to battle the tournament’s number one seed by his lonesome.
When teammate Billy Mamaril went to the referee to complain, Caguioa shoved him back to concentrate on the game at hand. Because after an exchange of baskets to kick off the third quarter, the Texters had regained their composure and the upper hand.
After another Harris blackhole moment where he opted not to pass and once more turned the ball over, TNT went all-Filipino. As the ball whipped around – from Jason Castro to Ranidel de Ocampo to Ali Peek to Ryan Reyes and to Fonacier – the score was 64-54 and Ginebra had to call for a time out.
As the Texters’ poured it on, the Kings lost their composure. Ginebra coach Jong Uichico was daring the referees to throw him out. Twice he entered the court, the first where he bumped the zebra, and the second to aid an enraged Caguioa who thought that Castro had fouled him on an undergoal stab. The Spark tripped up the Blur and was assessed a Flagrant 1 foul. Although the speedy guard flubbed the two gift shots, it was Talk ‘N Text that was still fired up. The closed out the third frame with a 6-2 run. The score was 73-59.
Barely two minutes into the final quarter, TNT pounded Ginebra with seven more points. Following a De Ocampo trey, the lead was at 20. After Fonacier’s silky jumper hit the bottom of the net to make it 87-66 with 5:19 to play, the crowd began to stream out.
With the yellow vuvuzelas blaring, Reyes’ squad had taken Game 1 102-83. Yet the TNT coach refused to declare that his team was ahead. Mindful of the psychological warfare being waged off the court, Reyes refused to give Uichico’s troops anything to feed on inside the locker room. “They only had two days’ rest while we were a little more rested.”
Rather than talk about the Kings, he noted that their assist to turnover ratio was bad. “We only had 18 assists and 21 turnovers. That should tell you something.”
But TNT mercilessly pounded BGK on the boards. They owned a whopping 63-46 advantage on both sides of the glass that they parlayed into 17 second chance points (Ginebra only had 10). And when team skipper Jimmy Alapag’s jump shot was still on vacation, Ryan Reyes coolly sniped away from the outside. The Cal-State Fullerton guard scored 19 points on 8-15 shooting including three shots from downtown. “That’s how we are. Jimmy was having an off night so we have to pick up that slack. I’m sure they’ll do the same when I’m off.”
“We have to take a long hard look at what happened,” said a visibly unhappy Caguioa after the match. “We have to play better than that or else it will be a short series.”
Talk ‘N Text 102 – Harris 28, Reyes 19, Castro 15, de Ocampo 10, Williams 9, Fonacier 9, Carey 4, Peek 4, Alapag 3, Oreta 1, Aban 0, Lao 0
Ginebra 83 – Caguioa 23, Brumfield 10, Intal 10, Hatfield 10, Cortez 9, Miller 6, Menk 5, Tubid 4, Mamaril 4, Wilson 2, Labagala 0, Aquino 0, de Ocampo 0