Jimmy Alapag and Jason Castro shone for the Texters, who nearly blew a 12-point fourth-quarter lead before pulling out all the stops in the final three minutes to prevail at the Smart Araneta Coliseum and push the Tigers in a deeper hole.
“We still need to get two more (victories),” coach Chot Reyes told reporters later. “We can’t relax and we must keep our foot on the pedal against what I think would be Powerade’s mightiest fighback (in Game 3).
Alapag finished with 23 points, with his biggest basket—his fifth triple—coming at the final 1:19 mark that gave the Texters a 99-93 lead.
Castro, who shared Finals MVP honors with Alapag last season, scattered 19 while being assigned as one of several players who tried to stop high-scoring Powerade superstar Gary David.
David got his 30 points and earned the ultimate praise from Reyes, who described his effort as the “Gary David special that he had the privilege of watching from courtside.”
“I just told the guys that we just have to withstand it,” Reyes said. “Gary got his 30 (points) but I felt we did a good job on the other players.”
Game 3 is scheduled tomorrow also at the Big Dome, and Reyes is hopeful that a piece of PBA history does not happen to him twice.
Reyes also had a similar 2-0 lead while coaching Coca-Cola in 2003, against Talk ‘N Text and Joel Banal, when the Tigers were looking to win the all-Filipino crown for the second straight season.
That Texters team didn’t yield a game after that and went on to win the first AFC for their franchise, which proved to be Talk ‘N Text’s last championship before team owner Manny V. Pangilinan came up with a stroke of brilliance by bringing Reyes in to coach in 2008.
After being held to a playoff low 19 points in a 100-116 Game 1 loss in Digos, Davao del Sur last Saturday, David fired 21 in the first half but the Tigers still trailed, 51-56.
JV Casio came back after sitting out the series opener and contributed 17 points, his presence helping free up David.
“It really does not matter whether we are 0-2 or 0-3, as long as we have that chance, we will keep fighting,” Powerade’s Bo Perasol said. “I believe we have a special reason why we are here.”
Meanwhile, Meralco and Barako Bull yesterday came to terms for a one-on-one trade involving Chico Lanete and Paul Artadi. The deal will be decided upon by commissioner Chito Salud today.
Before Game 3, the league’s board of governors will also tackle Marcus Douthit’s application to play in the coming Commissioner’s Cup in its regular meeting.
TALK ‘N TEXT 102—Alapag 23, Castro 19, Fonacier 13, Peek 10, Carey 9, Williams 8, Reyes 7, De Ocampo 7, Dillinger 4, Gamalinda 2, Aguilar 0.
POWERADE 96—David 30, Casio 17, Lassiter 15, Kramer 14, Adducul 9, Vanlandingham 4, Cruz 3, Anthony 2, Antonio 2, Allera 0, Crisano 0.
Quarters: 31-25, 56-51, 80-73, 102-96