ON A night Talk N Text was mainly shooting blanks from the stripe, B-Meg chose an inopportune time to follow suit.
Good thing the Llamados still managed to put in a point here and there to escape with an 88-82 victory Monday at the start of their PBA Commissioner's Cup championship duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Denzel Bowles and Donnell Harvey practically canceled each other out and it was PJ Simon bucking foul trouble to score eight of his 18 points during a crucial stretch that essentially enabled B-Meg to gain the headstart in the best-of-seven series.
It was those bricks from the stripe that gnawed at B-Meg coach Tim Cone the most and TnT counterpart Chot Reyes cited as main reason following the game watched by close to 14,000 fans.
"It was real kind of reversal," said Cone, whose charges went 5-for-13 from the stripe in the fourth period. "In the first half, they missed 10 free throws. We're really lucky, for in the second half they started making and we started missing those free throws."
"Two words: free throws," said Reyes after his team flubbed 20 of 36 charity attempts. "You cannot win a game if you miss those free throws. If we had missed (just) 50 percent of what we missed, we could have won by two.
"But that's their job. I cannot shoot those for them."
Despite such a dismal charity shooting, TnT still managed to fight back from two early 14-point deficits, wrest control in the third period and bucked a field goal-less stretch in the fourth period to keep within striking distance.
Jimmy Alapag's triple even shoved the defending champions within 82-86, but that proved to be their last gasp as they went 0-for-3 and committed a turnover inside the final 44 seconds.
Cone could let out his sigh of relief only after the final buzzer has sounded, however, as James Yap and Marc Pingris could only manage splits in their respective final trips to the line.
Cone expects TnT to bounce back strong come Game 2 Wednesday, also at the Big Dome.
"I've always felt the loser has the advantage coming into the next game," said Cone. "They make the adjustments and we have to make some quick reactions. It could be hard doing that.
"As I've said before, to win back-to-back games in a series takes extra effort. Let's see if we can reach deep, come back and win Game 2."
Reyes has a simple plan for Tuesday's practice. "Make them shoot those free throws," he stated. "You look at the stats up and down and we're practically even, except for those free throws.
"Ibinibigay na nga sa amin, kaya nga tinawag na 'gift shots'. Pero di namin tinanggap."
Bowles finished with 25 points and 11 rebounds while Joe Devance and Pingris added 11 each.
Before the series started, Reyes has expressed his apprehension about B-Meg's depth and he was proven right when the likes of Mark Barroca, JC Intal, Yancy de Ocampo and even Rafi Reavis chipped in. Reavis wound up with a teamhigh 12 boards.
It was also Devance who buried B-Meg's lone triple for the night and it came during an 18-5 run during the first eight minutes of the fourth period that wiped out TnT's 67-62 lead and installed the Llamados on top to stay, 80-72.
Harvey also had 25 points to go with 13 rebounds, but Alapag and Ryan Reyes were the only other Texters who had double digit outputs.
With Bowles throwing his weight around the shaded lane and Simon, Pingris and Reavis lending ample help, B-Meg posted early leads of 28-14 and 30-16 and went into the halftime break with a 48-40 spread.
That proved flimsy enough during the third period that saw Larry Fonacier scattering seven points, Bowles committing five of his gamehigh seven turnovers and the Texters missing just three of 10 free throw attempts to outscore the Llamados, 27-13.
"Good thing we battled through that bad time in the third," noted Cone. "I've been saying all along it's not a good recipe to beat Talk N text. You cannot give them a quarter. Luckily we had an eight-point lead at halftime. But we've got to play four 4 quarters." (NC)
B-MEG 88 - Bowles 25, Simon 18, Devance 11, Pingris 11, Yap 9, Barroca 4, Intal 3, Reavis 3, Urbiztondo 2, De Ocampo 2, Villanueva 0.
TALK N' TEXT 82 - Harvey 25, Alapag 12, Reyes 10, Fonacier 8, Williams 6, Dillinger 5, Castro 5, De Ocampo 5, Carey 4, Peek 2, Gamalinda 0, Aguilar 0.
Quarters: 25-14, 48-40, 62-67, 88-82.
Last edited by pbaddict on Mon Apr 23, 2012 10:40 pm; edited 2 times in total