18 February 2012

Bolts 96, TNT 102

Chris Ross
Omar Samhan, Talk 'N Text's import, looks overweight, appears slow on his feet, and definitely not a high leaper. Somehow, after missing his first nine shots, Samhan fought his way back to get the job done.

The defending champion's deceiving reinforcement scored six points in overtime, and Talk 'N Text kept intact its mastery of sister-team Meralco Friday night (17 February 2012), grinding out a 102-96 win at the start of its title defense of the PBA Commissioner's Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.

"Masakit sa mata," said TNT head coach Chot Reyes of Samhan's performance early on. "I had to keep my temper under control and be patient. He's not athletic, he's not flashy, and he's not pleasing to the eye. But he's effective."

Samhan went 9-of-14 from the field since his 0-of-9 start, finishing with 24 points, 20 rebounds and four blocked shots as the Tropang Texters extended their winning run against the Bolts to five games ever since the Meralco franchise was accepted to the PBA family last season.

"The fact that our import started 0-of-9 from the field is a tribute to the players for staying with him," Reyes said. "In the end, he had a 24-20 and that’s not a bad production at all. But I’ll be honest, the jury is still out on Omar Samhan."

Jimmy Alapag added 14 points and nine assists, Jayson Castro contributed 13 points and six assists, and Kelly Williams tossed in 12 points and 12 rebounds for Talk 'N Text, which played without guard Ryan Reyes due to a left quad injury.

It was Talk 'N Text's first competitive game since winning the season-opening conference Philippine Cup. The franchise only had four practice sessions with its import and didn’t have the luxury of going through a tune-up match with any of the ballclubs in the league during the off-season.

But the Tropang Texters still displayed sharpness for stretches in the game, and that included the poise they showed in extra time where they held the Bolts to only four points and scoreless in the final 2:20.

"We came into this ball game expecting to grind out a win," Reyes said. "And it was up to us how we were going to grind out a win."

Castro hit a booming three-point shot to give Talk ‘N Text the lead for good, 97-96, and Samhan came through with a reverse lay-up before Alapag had a split. Samhan closed out scoring with two more gift shots.

Jarrid Famous led Meralco with 28 points, but had none in overtime. Mark Cardona added 25 and Chris Ross tossed in 19 points and a career-high 13 assists and five steals.

Regulation ended at 92-92, with Talk 'N Text bungling the chance to win the game outright after Ranidel de Ocampo’s driving shot hit the back of the rim hard and bounced off.

Meralco dropped to a 1-2 (win-loss) record, failing to apply a fitting follow-up to its emphatic 105-83 victory over Petron Blaze Wednesday. (ZM)

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