2014 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals: Castro and Howell combine to lead TNT past SMC in Game 2!

Jayson Castro and Richard Howell led the way for Talk N Text here, combining for 48 points to lead the Tropang Texters to a series-tying Game 2 win, 86-76. Castro hit 5 three-point bombs, including a key trey that stifled an SMC rally in the fourth. The #1 PG in Asia scored a total of 30 points while also grabbing 7 rebounds, handing out 5 assists, stealing the ball 4 times, and blocking 1 shot. In short, Castro made a very good case for Best Player of the Conference with this single game performance. Howell, meanwhile, continued to pad his case for Best Import by shooting 7/12 from the field on his way to 18 points on top of 20 big rebounds. This was a good bounce back effort after his pedestrian outing in Game 1. 

Jayson Castro (left) and the rest of TNT thoroughly outplayed
Justin Melton (right) and the Mixers in Game 2.

Contrary to their billing, starting unit members James Yap, Joe Devance, and PJ Simon struggled to find the hole in this one. After combining for 40 points in Game 1, that trio totaled just 15 here, shooting a combined 5/18 from the floor. So atrocious was their performance that SMC coach Tim Cone chose to go to his bench in the fourth. That move, strangely enough, allowed the Mixers to storm back into the game before Castro kept them at bay with the last of his five threes.

Defense vs. Defense: In the first game, TNT committed an uncharacteristic amount of turnovers, and it continued here with coach Norman Black’s wards coughing the ball up 21 times. They made up for this, however, by clamping down on SMC’s shooters, who struggled to shoot only 37% from the field overall. With these two teams really zoning in on defense, it seems like PBA fans shouldn’t expect any fast-paced, high-scoring action, but, instead, count on both sides to really dig deep in a basketball version of trench warfare. In other words, it’s turning out to be a hoops purist’s dream.

Game recap by Rey Joble/InterAKTV:


It didn’t take the Talk ‘N Text Tropang Texters long before getting back into their winning ways, taking a tough 86-76 victory over the San Mig Super Coffee Mixers on Sunday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

Winning Game Two allowed the Tropang Texters to tie the best-of-five PLDT Home TVolution Commissioner’s Cup finals at 1-all.

“I should make special mention to Jayson Castro who carried us this game,” said Talk ‘N Text coach Norman Black.

Castro scored 30 points, including the last of his five three-pointers with less than three minutes left that doused water on the Mixers’ furious fourth quarter rally.

Talk ‘N Text scored the first seven points of the third quarter to take control with a 44-33 lead.

Buoyed by the brilliance of Castro, it was all Tropang Texters for most of the second half, pushing the lead to as much as 18 points early in the fourth period.

Unhappy with the performance of his first unit, San Mig Coffee coach Tim Cone pulled his starters in the final period. The Mixers’ bench crew featuring Mark Barroca, Justin Melton, Alex Mallari, Ian Sangalang, and Yancy De Ocampo then sparked an uprising, trimming the Talk ‘N Text advantage to single digits.

After the return of import James Mays, San Mig Coffee came within six points, 79-73, before Castro’s big three-pointer woke up his team. The Tropang Texters held off the Mixers with timely baskets down the stretch.

Talk ‘N Text earlier saw its 13-game winning streak snapped in the series opener, with the Tropang Texters dropping a 95-80 result largely because of listless play.

“Effort is the No. 1 thing. We played with a lot more intensity, a lot more energy, that resulted to a win tonight,” said Black.

That effort manifested itself on the defensive end, with Talk ‘N Text holding San Mig Coffee to just 37 percent shooting from the field. This time, it was the turn of the Mixers to shoot better from the three-point territory (40 percent) compared to two-point distance (36.4 percent), something that happened to Talk ‘N Text in Game One.

Import Richard Howell was a huge source of energy for the Tropang Texters, winning his matchup with San Mig Coffee counterpart Mays. Howell dominated with 18 points and 20 rebounds, while Mays finished with 15 and 12.

Game Three is set on Tuesday at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

TNT 86 – Castro 30, Howell 18, Fonacier 9, De Ocampo 8, Williams 8, Carey 4, Alapag 4, Canaleta 3, Reyes Ryan 2, Reyes Rob 0.
SMC 76 – Mays 15, Melton 15, Pingris 11, Barroca 7, Sangalang 7, Yap 6, Devance 5, Simon 4, De Ocampo 2, Mallari 2, Reavis 2.
QS: 19-15, 37-33, 65-49, 86-76
Jayson Castro put his stamp in Game 2 with a huge 30-point effort.

Justin Melton led a late rally that fell short for SMC.
Richard Howell (left) has the inside track to winning Best Import over James Mays (right).

The Mixers will have to bounce back big time in Game 3 to keep their grand slam hopes alive.

Images by Paul Ryan Tan and Pranz Kaeno Billones/Sports 5.

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