Seigle of San Miguel shots over Talk N Text defenders Ali Peek (34) and Ranidel De Ocampo in last night’s Game 6 of the best-of-seven semis series. Jun Mendoza]

MANILA, JANUARY 26, 2009 (STAR) By Nelson Beltran - Talk n Text played with a big fighting heart in the face of tough adversity, outlasting San Miguel Beer, 116-115, in an overtime thriller to clinch the first slot in the KFC PBA Philippine Cup finals at the Astrodome last night.

Mark Cardona and Jimmy Alapag sizzled with 34 and 27 points, respectively, while Harvey Carey pulled down a personal career-high 22 rebounds as the Tropang Texters bucked the absence of Yancy de Ocampo and the early ouster of Ranidel de Ocampo to make the conference finals for the seventh time in franchise history.

Coach Chot Reyes gained his 10th finale, getting the chance to be the first PBA tactician to win three All-Filipino crowns with three different teams.

“Exactly a year today, Mr. Manny V. Pangilinan and Mr. Ricky Vargas talked to me for the first time offering me to coach the team. After discussing the details, I told them give me one year and I will bring the team to the finals. By sheer Divine Providence, Talk n Text is in the final after a year,” said Reyes.

Short-handed, saddled with fouls and all, the Texters survived the trial by digging deep and gutting it out on sheer fighting heart.

Cardona sparkled in the crunch, knocking down the most important baskets, including a triple that proved to be the deciding basket with 1:41 left to play.

“Minus the De Ocampo brothers and with practically all the guys in foul-trouble situation, I told them in a timeout that ‘sorry but I have no secrets for you. You have play your best, play with your hearts out, play good defense.’ In the end, that’s what they did,” said Reyes.

Ranidel joined his brother Yancy on the sidelines after being called for a flagrant foul penalty 2 infraction on Lordy Tugade in the second quarter.

Minus the two, Alapag fueled a Talk n Text breakaway in the third period before Cardona took over, personally finishing off the Beermen and silencing the San Miguel crowd which booed him practically the entire series.

Cardona, saving his best for last, went 7-of-15 from the three-point area and 6-of-9 from the two-point zone for his most productive game in the series. He averaged 23.8 points in the elims but was limited to 16.4 a game in the first five contests in the semis.

The Beermen, who were led by Danny Seigle with 32 points, engaged the Texters in a battle but yielded the game by going scoreless in the last two minutes of overtime play.

The Texters also fired blanks at the finish, relying on key offensive rebounds to beat the Beermen, 4-2, in their best-of-seven duel.

It was Talk n Text’s first win over San Miguel in seven playoff series.

The Beermen went to Seigle, Marc Pingris and Jay Washington as they came charging back from a 60-77 deficit and sent the game into overtime on a triple by Washington with 24.9 ticks left in regulation play.

The Texters failed to win it in regulation with Alapag missing a long shot just before the buzzer sounded.

Alapag sizzled with seven treys earlier but was clamped down by Dondon Hontiveros in the fourth period.

Meanwhile, the Red Team upstaged Blue, 55-50, in the National 13-under tournament organized by national head coach Mark Herrera.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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