Defending champion Talk ‘N Text notched a 108-102 win over Blackwater despite the absence of suspended import Ivan Johnson on Wed-nesday in the opening day of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 41 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
“It’s a good thing that we’ve won today though we have no import,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Jong Uichico during the post-game interview. “So credit to the players because they gave their best.”
“We just have to adjust to the rule, I am not complaining about the rules.”
Combo guard Jayson Castro posted 19 of his 22 points in the first half through 7-of-13 shooting in the field including four three-pointers to lead the Texters. Guard Ryan Reyes and rookie Moala Tautuaa scored 16 points each also for Talk ‘N Text.
Forward Ranidel De Ocampo has returned after nursing a slip disc he sustained during weight training in the early phase of the Philippine Cup. De Ocampo scored 20 points via 7-of-12 shooting in the field plus four rebounds and three assists.
“I’m very thankful to all my fans out there who prayed for my speedy recovery. I was out for almost four months, I guess,” said De Ocampo. “Well sometimes I feel stiff at my back during movements but that’s okay. I’m hoping to become 100 percent healthy.”
Kelly Williams finished with nine points while veteran Harvey Carey had six points and 11 rebounds also for the Texters. Johnson, who was suspended for hitting Blackwater players in a tune-up game, will resume playing on February 13.
Talk ‘N Text’s opening day win spoiled Carlo Lastimosa’s feat of scoring a career-high 39 points for Blackwater. The former College of Saint Benilde star had 13-of-21 attempts in the field and 9-of-10 in free throws.
Talk ‘N Text ended the first quarter with a slim 29-26 lead but eventually stretched it to 52-44 at the half break. The Texters sustained their aggression in the third period with Tautuaa scoring 10 points resulting in an 83-72 lead at the beginning of the fourth quarter.
The Elite, led by Lastimosa threatened the Texters in the fourth period by narrowing the gap to 102-103 with only 1:11 left in the game.
Lastimosa scored 14 his 39 points in the fourth period.
Castro notched a crucial three-pointer late in the game to seal Talk ‘N Text’s opening day win.
Blackwater’s import Rhett finished with 16 points via 6-of-17 shooting in the field in addition to seven rebounds and five turnovers.
In the second game, the Meralco Bolts shook-off a sluggish start to post a 90-86 victory over the Purefoods Star Hotshots.
The 6’10 replacement import Arinze Onuaku scored 25 points plus 22 rebounds. Rookie Chris Newsome added 16 points through 7-of-12 shooting in the field while Cliff Hodge contributed 12 points and seven rebounds for the Bolts.
“Our import [Onuaku] just arrived just this midnight and he only had a few hours of sleep, but he covers some of our weaknesses,” said Meralco Bolts coach Norman Black during the post-game interview. “Team chemistry is much better than the last conference. I’m hoping to see you guys more often.”
The other import Denzel Bowles scored 20 points and 15 rebounds for the Star Hotshots.