After a sluggish start in the 2018 Philippine Cup, the TNT Katropa have seemingly found their groove, as they cruised to their second straight win at the expense of the Meralco Bolts, 99-81, Sunday night at the Ynares Center in Antipolo.
This is now TNT’s first win streak in the tourney as they improve to 3-2. The Bolts, on the other hand, suffered their third straight loss and are now 1-3.
“We knew that Meralco was undermanned. We knew that they lacked the people going to this game today so ang mentality namin was to take advantage of that, ‘yung pagkukulang ng Meralco,” said TNT coach Nash Racela.
“Today from start to end, we were able to do that. The intensity level was consistent. Siguro medyo bumababa ng kaunti but kaunting-kaunti lang. That’s our goal as a team, maging consistent on both ends,” he added.
Troy Rosario, who turned 26 years old yesterday, led TNT with 22 points — 12 coming from the opening frame where he powered a 16-3 run — on 8-of-13 shooting from the field on top of a game high 10 rebounds.
“It won’t be his birthday every day. It’s nice that he shot well while celebrating his birthday, but we also need him to shoot well during other days,” said Racela of Rosario. “That’s how you become consistent.”
Shades of a comeback flashed in the game’s third chapter, when the Orangemen chopped down a 16-point lead to just five, 52-47, thanks to back-to-back triples by KG Cañaleta and Jared Dillinger with 8:32 remaining.
But it proved to be the last time that Meralco would knock that close. After Roger Pogoy’s triple went in to help TNT regain the double-digit lead, 57-47, with 6:07 in the third, the Katropa never looked back and ran roughshod.
The Texters even led by as much as 22 points, 92-70, after RR Garcia’s three-pointer with 4:27 left to play.
Garcia supplied 18 points and eight assists for the Katropa, who shot a conference-high 18 treys in the win. Pogoy made 15 points despite shooting 6-of-16, while Jayson Castro had 12 points, four boards, and three dimes.
Ryan Reyes and Anthony Semerad each chipped in 10 markers.
The Bolts, who shot just 39 percent in the loss, were led by Baser Amer’s 20 points, six rebounds, and six assists. Dillinger scored 14 and grabbed five caroms, while Cañalata had 11 markers, five boards, and three assists.
TNT will try to sustain their momentum versus the Magnolia Hotshots on January 27, Saturday at 6:45 PM, while Meralco will aim to end their skid versus the Kia Picanto on Wednesday, January 24, at 4:30 PM. Both games are at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
TNT 99 — Rosario 22, Garcia 18, Pogoy 15, Castro 12, Reyes 10, Semerad 10, Carey 3, Hernandez 3, Tautuaa 2, Torres 2, Williams 2, Golla 0, Onwubere 0.
Meralco 81 — Amer 20, Dillinger 14, Canaleta 11, Tolomia 8, Newsome 6, Lanete 5, Bono 4, Hugnatan 4, Ballesteros 3, Faundo 3, Baracael 2, , Sedurifa 1, Caram 0, Salva 0.
Quarterscores: 27-18, 46-36, 73-62, 99-81.