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Tiebreaker Times


TNT rallies back from 29 down, breaks NLEX hearts anew in OT

The NLEX Road Warriors had been on the verge of another stunning upset of the TNT Katropa — but Jayson Castro thought otherwise.

With Castro steering the wheel, the TNT Katropa rallied back from 29 points down and took over in overtime, taking a 126-121 win, Friday evening at the SM Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

Castro led TNT’s comeback by scoring 11 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter, while dishing out 11 assists. His most pivotal assist came with 26.6 ticks remaining in the final quarter of regulation: a find to Ranidel de Ocampo, who drained a corner triple to knot things up at 113-all.

And the win came exactly 90 days since NLEX’s last one, a 110-98 victory in Angeles City, Pampanga last January 7, 2017. NLEX have now dropped 10 games in a row.

“I’ve always believed that the sense of entitlement always harms the person. Maybe it came from the past accomplishments we had. Pero hindi na ganun, NLEX is better now,” first-year TNT head coach Nash Racela said. “We always preached that you need to put in the work to get the win.”

After rallying back from 29 down in the third frame to force extra time, it was all TNT. The Road Warriors — a team that had shot 60 percent from the field during the first half — suddenly went cold, as the Katropa were able to limit them to just a single field goal in the frame, a Wayne Chism and-one play with 2:46 remaining.

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“We were down 29 points and without the mentality of playing defense. I think the lesson here is that we cannot choose kung kelan kami maglalaro,” Racela admitted. “It has to be a 48 minute game in which we continuously play. It’s a big lesson for us but at least we got the win.”

TNT were only able to taste their first lead in overtime, after from a breakaway basket by Jayson Castro a minute and four seconds into overtime. A triple by Roger Pogoy later on gave TNT their biggest lead of the game, 120-113.

From there, the Katropa stifled the Road Warriors, limiting them to scoring only from free throws.

“During the last 20 minutes of the game, we started playing defense that turned the game around,” Racela reflected.

NLEX had a chance to avert this monumental 29-point collapse in the dying seconds of regulation. With Kevin Alas handling the ball, he was able to locate Garvo Lanete on the corner, but the former San Beda Red Lion fumbled the pass with 7.9 ticks left. Castro had a chance to win it right then and there but his fadeaway jumper over Alas clanged off the rim.

“It was the players who talked before I entered the dugout. They were already talking with each other, trying to find ways to rally back,” Racela said about what had gone on during the halftime break. “It was them who suggested things and it started working out in the second half.”

Donte Greene, in his second game with TNT, chipped in 26 points and 16 rebounds. However, he needed 27 attempts to put up those numbers.

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“His offense will be there but we want more from him on the defensive end. It’s something that we are encouraging him to do,” Racela lamented.

De Ocampo added 22 markers and 11 rebounds, including three triples, while Troy Rosario scored eight of his 16 points in the last 17 minutes of the game.

Behind Chism’s 35 points, NLEX led by as high as 29 points, 89-60, early in the third frame. He gobbled down 21 rebounds as well.

NLEX produced 76 first half points before being limited to just 44 points the rest of the way — including just 12 points in the final frame.

Kevin Alas added his conference-high of 19 points while Carlo Lastimosa and Juami Tiongson scored 13 and 10 points respectively.

TNT are now 3-1 after the win, while NLEX fell to a 0-5 slate.

TNT will just have a day’s break before facing the Mahindra Floodbuster on Sunday, April 9, at the SM Mall of Asia Arena. NLEX will take on the Globalport Batang Pier on Wednesday, April 12 at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:,

TNT (126) – Castro 32, Greene 26, De Ocampo 22, Pogoy 20, Rosario 16, Williams 6, Carey 2, Fonacier 2, Golla 0, Reyes 0, Rosales 0, Tamsi 0.

NLEX (121) – Chism 35, Alas 19, Lastimosa 13, Tiongson 10, Al-Husaini 7, Khobuntin 7, Anthony 6, Taulava 4, Guinto 3, Rios 3, Baracael 2, Soyud 2, Lanete 1.

Quarterscores: 22-42, 53-76, 83-101, 113-113, 126-121.

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