AMERICAN Eric Hicks had a monster game and the Talk ‘n Text Tropang Texters doused the comeback of the M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala-Cebu, 87-79, in the first of the two-game exhibition matches at the Cebu Coliseum last night.

Hicks led a strong opening salvo of the Tropang Texters as he scored 11 of his game-high 25, in the first quarter to give TNT a 21-9 lead. Hicks highlighted his game with four monster dunks to the delight of the crowd.

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While the post players of TNT were scoring at will, the Niños had to improvise their shots and got all of its 14-points from the outside.

It took a basket by Franklyn Nailon at the 5:17 of the second for the Niños to score its first basket in the shaded lane, and it became the starting block for the M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala squad’s rousing comeback.

The Niños took the momentum with a quick 8-2 run before the end of the first half.

A 9-2 blitz midway in the third period tied the game for the first time at 54- and the Niños took the lead for the first time with reinforcement Jason Forte’s basket early in the final quarter, 63-62.

Forte, who replaced Jason Dixon as M. Lhuillier Kwarta Padala’s import, tried to make up for his cold first quarter as he tried to give TNT a run for their money.

But Hicks proved to be the focal point of the Tropang Texters’ offense as he anchored a telling 11-2 run that pulled the PBA squad ahead, 81-72 for good.