FINALS: Powerade Tigers 1 - 3 Talk N Text Tropang Texters
After struggling all-game long, Japeth Aguilar found a way to be useful for the limping Talk ‘N Text squad.

The former No. 1 overall pick completed two huge plays in the final 3.7 seconds and helped the Tropang Texters escape with a miraculous 80-78 win over Petron Blaze to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the next round of the 2011-12 PBA Philippine Cup Tuesday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Aguilar was in-and-out of the game due to poor performance and even got a mouthful from coach Chot Reyes on one occasion, but the former Smart Gilas mainstay kept his focus and returned in the closing seconds to bring his team the victory.

“Buong game talagang masama ang laro ko,” said Aguilar, who finished with modest numbers of three points, three rebounds and one steal in just 15 minutes. “Talagang frustrated ako sa bench. Sinabihan lang ako ng assistant coaches to stay focused baka gamitin ako sa huli.”

After Alex Cabagnot drilled a three-pointer from the top of the key to give Petron a 78-76 lead with 12.8 seconds left, Harvey Carey grabbed a loose ball after Shawn Weinstein’s shot was blocked by Arwind Santos.

Carey was sent to the 15-foot line by Santos with 3.7 seconds remaining in the game.

The burly forward made the first free throw, but missed the second. Luckily for Talk ‘N Text, Aguilar used his height advantage to grab the offensive rebound and followed up the miss, at the same time drawing a foul from Santos.

Aguilar swished the bonus free throw for an 80-78 lead with 2.4 seconds left. The Pampanga-native completed his late heroics with a steal off the inbound pass.

Petron’s own bid for the twice-to-beat advantage got hampered as its win-loss record fell to 9-5.

Kelly Williams led all scorers with 21 points while Larry Fonacier added 17 for the defending champions, who improved their mark to a league-leading 10-3 slate and are now assured of a spot in the top two.

Carey also played big for Talk ‘N Text with 15 points and 11 rebounds, while Weinstein and Bambam Gamalinda also contributed big for the crippled Tropang Texters, who lost Jimmy Alapag and Jason Catro during the match.

Alapag re-injured his right foot while Castro had a sprained ankle, forcing Chot Reyes to go with Weinstein for most of the second half.

“I have two players who were not even playing when this season started,” said Reyes, referring to Gamalinda and Weisntein. “Kumbaga, pachi-pachi kami and we just found ways to win.”

Dennis Miranda led the Boosters with 15 points while Cabagnot added 14. Joseph Yeo finished with 12 points while Santos had a quiet 11-point performance for the Boosters.

The scores:

TALK N’ TEXT 80 – Williams 21, Fonacier 17, Carey 15, Castro 8, Weinstein 6, Gamalinda 4, Alvarez 4, Aguilar 3, Lao 2, Raymundo 0, Alapag 0.

PETRON 78 – Miranda 15, Cabagnot 14, Yeo 12, Santos 11, Reyes 9, Ildefonso 8, Tugade 5, Guevarra 4, Doruelo 0, Baclao 0.

Quarters: 23-28, 29-40, 57-53, 80-78


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