Talk 'N Text squeaks past SMB to stay unbeaten

MANILA, Philippines - Talk 'N Text had to weather a late run from San Miguel before escaping with their third straight win, 107-99 and remain undefeated in the PLDT Home TVolution PBA Commissioner's Cup on Friday, March 14 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

In a heated clash of early league leaders, the Tropang Texters emerged on top using their accurate touch from downtown and the late-game rally by import Richard Howell to pick up their third straight win and remain perfect in the nine-game elimination race.

Richard Howell finished with monster figures of 38 points and 20 rebounds while spoiling the solid debut of new SMB import Kevin Jones, who had 35 points and 13 rebounds.

Jimmy Alapag added 18 points on four triples - including one in the final 1:22 that gave TNT some cushion - and 7 assists.

The Texters led by as much as 19 in the first half but the Beermen kept jabbing to trim the deficit little by little in the second half.

TNT head coach Norman Black was tossed out of the court after questioning a foul on Richard Howell that looked clean as seen on the replays.

Black was slapped with two technical fouls that turned into two free throws for Paolo Hubalde and a triple by Chris Lutz that enabled the Beermen to pull closer, 68-74.

Jimmy Alapag answered quickly with a trey to give the Tropang Texters some cushion, 77-68 heading into the payoff period.

Jones started the final quarter with two buckets including a jumper that pulled San Miguel to as close as 76-79 with over 10 minutes left. But that proved to be the closest they could get as Jones was slapped with his fifth personal foul afterwards.

Up by just 3 at 79-76, Howell took charge, scoring nine points in a crippling 13-0 blitz that made it a huge 92-76 advantage for the Texters while Jones haplessly watched from the sidelines.

But the resilient Beermen refused to surrender just yet.

Marcio Lassiter then banked back to back triples to keep San Miguel in the game, 84-92 with just 5:13 left.

Teams exchanged baskets before a Jones putback pulled SMB within 93-97 under the last two minutes. Jimmy Alapag and Chris Lutz then exchanged treys, 100-96 with 72 ticks to go.

In the next play, Alapag wasted away time before launching a three-point attempt, drawing a foul from Lutz in the process. The Gilas Pilipinas captain knocked two free throws to push TNT's lead to 102-96, 55 seconds to go.

Jayson Castro then sealed the deal with a fastbreak layup off a Beermen turnover as they picked up win No. 3.

San Miguel dropped to 2-1.

Quarter scores: 26-19, 51-38, 77-68, 107-99. -