Rondae Hollis-Jefferson continued to validate TNT’s decision as he steered his side past Meralco, 111-104, to extend the longest active winning streak of the PBA Governors’ Cup, Friday at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The former NBA cager finished with 34 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists as he led the Tropang Giga’s second-quarter surge to gain control of the game en route to recapturing the provisional lead of the standings at 7-1.
He poured 11 of their 29 points in the said period for a 56-42 advantage at the half, and also helped out in keeping the Bolts at bay when the latter got to within just six points twice inside the game’s final minute.
“Yes, he is the better fit because he improves everything for us. Ball movement, and then we now have a threat in the post,” said coach Jojo Lastimosa.
“It used to be that our guards were the ones who were threats in the post, but now, we have a big [man] that is a threat in the post. Rondae makes it better for us overall, offense and defense,” the cage legend added.
Mikey Williams supplied 25 points and five rebounds in the prelude to their game versus long-time rival San Miguel on Sunday at the Philsports Arena.
Calvin Oftana felt it from deep as he fired five triples on the way to 20 points, alongside eight rebounds, three assists, a steal, and a block, while Jayson Castro chipped in 16 markers off the bench in the victory.
TNT, though, couldn’t fully celebrate as it missed Roger Pogoy in the last two quarters no thanks to a left ankle sprain he sustained in the first half.
“I don’t know. I’m not the trainer. But from what I see, I think it’s bad enough that he can’t go on, but it’s not that bad that he was able to come back. I’m hoping that it’s not severe,” said Lastimosa of his two-way specialist.
Former KaTropa KJ McDaniels, meanwhile, led Meralco with 26 points and 15 rebounds against seven turnovers in their second straight loss.
Aaron Black supplied 21 points and eight rebounds. Chris Newsome 20 points, while Chris Banchero and Allein Maliksi added 11 apiece.
The Bolts (3-3) will face another MVP team in NLEX on February 23, Thursday, at 4:30 p.m. at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
TNT 111 – Hollis-Jefferson 34, M.Williams 25, Oftana 19, Castro 16, Khobuntin 6, Pogoy 4, Montalbo 4, K.Williams 3, Varilla 0, Chua 0.
Meralco 104 – McDaniels 26, Black 21, Newsome 20, Banchero 11, Maliksi 11, Hodge 6, Quinto 4, Caram 2, Almazan 2, Pascual 1, Jose 0.
Quarterscores: 27-25, 56-42, 86-69, 111-104.
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.