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PBA: Air21 shocks TnT

Games Friday (Cuneta Astrodome, Pasay City)

5:15 p.m. — Talk ’N Text vs Barako Bull

7:30 p.m. — Alaska vs Air21

MANILA, Philippines — Import Marcus Douthit scored only six points but grabbed a career-tying 26 rebounds as Air21 stunned erstwhile unbeaten and defending champion Talk ’N Text, 89-78, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday night at Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

Douthit, the 6-foot-10 naturalized player who suited up for the Smart-Gilas Pilipinas last year, was just 2-of-13 from the field and 2-of-10 from the foul line but the intangibles he provided to the team were more than enough to inspire his teammates – especially Bitoy Omolon.

Omolon scattered a game-high 23 points – 15 in the first period – while Jojo Duncil and Mark Isip contributed 16 points apiece as Air21 posted its second win in four starts – enough to make coach Franz Pumaren happy.

TNT now sports a 3-1 card for a share of the lead with Barangay Ginebra, which is playing Meralco at press time.

From a 42-37 advantage after the first half, the Express used a 14-4 run that padded their advantage to 16 points, 56-41.

That run was capped by a jumper from center James Sena that earned him hue applause, especially from his teammates, with 7:20 left in the third period. Sena had four of his eight points in that scoring binge.

RJ Jazul also shone offensively with 12 markers.

The Texters, who paraded a new reinforcement in Donnel Harvey, trimmed the deficit to 67-66 on a basket by Ranidel de Ocampo with 6:27 left to play.

However, Isip scored on a follow-up and Jazul added a booming triple to make it 72-66. De Ocampo converted a jumper in the next play, but Omolon split his free throw, and then after a turnover by TNT, he sent their supporters into a wild celebration with a slam dunk.

Duncil’s lay-up gave them a 77-68 lead with 3:48 remaining in the game.

“Probably we’re lucky we got Talk ’N Text on their off day,” said Air21 mentor Franz Pumaren, whose team – then known as Shopinas.com – went 0-14 in the previous Philippine Cup. “They started flat and we grabbed the opportunity.”

“I think Marcus is not feeling well, he’s probably under the weather. He’s not the usual Marcus. But being a true professional and warrior, he really helped us on defense,” said Pumaren. (Waylon Galvez)

The scores:

First Game

Air21 89 — Omolon 23, Duncil 16, Isip16, Jazul 12, Sena 8, Douthit 6, Ritualo 4, Sison 2, Hubalde 2, Escobal 0, Aquino 0.

Talk ’N Text 78 — Harvey 21, De Ocampo 13, Castro 12, Fonacier 11, Dillinger 8, Alapag 7, Gamalinda 2, Carey 2, Peek 2, Aguilar 0, Reyes 0, Williams 0.

Quarters: 25-18, 42-37, 64-58, 89-78.