MANILA---The balloons left hanging in the rafters two nights ago finally fell, and now everyone, including the rest of the Philippine Basketball Association field, can start talking Grand Slam.
Talk ‘N Text annexed the second jewel to a targetted sweep last night, fighting hard when pushed to the limit by a game Barangay Ginebra side before prevailing, 99-96, in overtime to clinch the Commissioner’s Cup title before a boisterous Araneta Coliseum crowd.
The Texters scored eight points inside the final 2 minutes and 15 seconds, including five from Jimmy Alapag, as Talk ‘N Text rallied from a couple of 15-point deficits before closing out the Gin Kings, 4-2, in the best-of-seven series.
Alapag had sent the game into overtime with a left-handed layup, 88-all, and went on to clinch the Finals MVP again with teammate Jason Castro.
It was a fitting ending to what had been billed as a lopsided series for the Texters, who had to scrape past a Ginebra squad that played with much brilliance and almost succeeded in taking the series to the full route.
Castro, the big difference for the Texters in the Philippine Cup series against San Miguel, also hit a triple during that closing spurt in extra time.
He finished with 19 points to equal his series-high, while Alapag shot 24. Paul Harris scattered 18 markers like Ranidel de Ocampo to pace the Texters.
“Two-down, two-down,” Reyes shouted over the microphone in addressing a sea of yellow at the Big Dome.
He was referring to the Texters’ first quest of matching the feats of Crispa, Alaska and San Miguel as the only Grand Slam winners of the league.
“Obviously, now that we’ve won the second, there’s only one jewel missing in the Triple Crown, and we’re going to go for it,” Reyes added.
Mark Caguioa had a chance to forge a second overtime for the Kings but missed his shot badly and, after the Texters won out in the scramble for the final possession, Reyes stood up on the bench, faced team owner Manny Pangilinan, and raised his arms in triumph.
It was also there where Ginebra coach Jong Uichico offered his hand of congratulations to Reyes.
Willie Miller scored 21 points for the Kings and import Nate Brumfield scored 18 and plucked down 22 rebounds before being carried off the floor because of cramps with still 2:11 left in overtime.
Ginebra enjoyed several 15-point leads, the first after a span that bridged the first two periods, when Miller came off the bench to shoot eight points inside the final 3:18 of the opening frame.
The Texters trailed, 25-40 after just 3:35 of the second period when the Kings opened up the quarter with a 12-2 run where Miller also had a triple.
But the Texters came back with 10 unanswered points after Alapag made a triple, Ali Peek completed a three-point play and Castro converted on a rare four-point play off Miller.
Talk ‘N Text also came back from a 66-81 deficit early in the fourth period before eventually forging overtime after Alapag sliced through the Ginebra defense for the tying layup.
TALK ‘N TEXT 99—Alapag 24, Castro 19, Harris 18, De Ocampo 18, Williams 10, Peek 10, Reyes 0, Fonacier 0, Carey 0.
BARANGAY GINEBRA 96—Miller 21, Brumfield 18, Intal 17, J. Wilson 14, Labagala 8, Caguioa 6, Menk 5, Cortez 3, Mamaril 2, Hatfield 2, Tubid 0.
Quarters: 23-28, 48-53, 64-74, 88-88, 99-96