It was a scary sight when Joshua Smith left the court with his nose bleeding after an inadvertent hit from Arinze Onuake midway into the third frame of the TNT-Meralco tiff, Friday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Smith was the unfortunate casualty of Onuaku’s accidental elbow to the nose when the latter was going down from a shot near the rim. The bleeding was so bad that the Katropa decided not to field the hefty 6-foot-10 import for the rest of the contest.
Smith left the match with just six points and seven rebounds.
After his departure, the Katropa were expected to fall, as they were left with an all-Filipino crew in the final 18 minutes of the bout. But it went the other way around, as the locals stepped up and still gave the Bolts a rough night.
And the one at the forefront of the Texters’ attack was Troy Rosario.
The athletic power forward produced import-like numbers of 30 points on 12-of-19 shooting and 12 rebounds to power the Katropa to a 91-85 victory over the Orangemen – a win that snapped their two-game skid.
Obviously, Rosario stepped up to the plate in lieu of Smith. But the National University product deflected the credit to his teammates in the victory – Jayson Castro provided 20 points, while Jericho Cruz chipped in 11 markers.
“‘Di naman natin ginusto yung nangyari sa kanya. Pero yun nga, yung teamwork dun lumalabas e, kung merong isang nagii-struggle o na-injured, talagang dun lumalabas yung laro nung mga teammates,” said Rosario.
But what really motivated the Katropa, especially Rosario, to deliver against the Bolts is their desire to finish the eliminations in either of the Top Two spots, which merit a win-once incentive for the quarterfinals.
As of now, TNT are in the running for the Top Two. The Katropa and the Bolts currently share the third spot of the team standings with similar 7-3 cards.
“Well kailangan na kailangan talaga namin yung panalo kasi umaasa pa rin kami dun sa twice-to-beat,” said the 6-foot-7 stretch big man.
“May chance pa kami. Sana yung last game namin maipanalo din namin.”