TNT mercilessly booted out NorthPort, 134-110, to complete the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinal cast, Wednesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Roger Pogoy powered the Tropang Giga’s second-quarter explosion, combining for 31 of the team’s 47 points for a commanding 66-43 halftime lead that turned the game completely in their favor.
The flagship MVP Group franchise would pour 43 points more in the following period, leaving the Batang Pier overwhelmed as they cruised to their seventh consecutive win to remain on top of the standings with a 9-1 card.
“I didn’t even realize that we scored 47 points in the second quarter because they were just in a groove,” said head coach Jojo Lastimosa. “Everybody was hitting their shots, and we were sharing the ball. ‘Yun ang hinahanap namin.”
Already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage, TNT now turns its attention on current 2-seed and reigning champions Barangay Ginebra (8-2) on Friday at 5:45 in the same venue in the final battle of the elimination round.
“No. 1 or No. 2, it doesn’t really matter to me,” said Lastimosa as the game will be a clash for the top seed. “It’s just nice to win over Ginebra.
“But it’s still the elimination game and even if we win over Ginebra, it doesn’t mean that we are going to go deep in the playoffs. What I’m trying to say is it’s just one game,” the cage legend furthered. “But I’m excited.”
Hollis-Jefferson top-scored for the Tropa with 31 points, 11 rebounds, three assists, and four assists. Pogoy fired 22 points and seven boards.
Calvin Oftana produced 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists off the bench, while Kelly Williams chimed in 12 markers and six caroms as a total of 14 players scored at least a point in the dominant victory.
“I thought when we played the first quarter, we were kind of rusty, and I kind of expected that. I wasn’t really surprised. The guys picked it up. ‘Yung second quarter, ‘yung depensa namin, bumalik,” Lastimosa said.
TNT’s win finalized the quarterfinal picture as it gave Phoenix Super LPG (4-7) a free ride to the playoffs’ opening round as the no. 8 seed.
NorthPort, on the other hand, was led by the 35 points and 10 rebounds of Kevin Murphy in the defeat, which marked the second time this season that the ball club failed to make it past the elimination round.
Arvin Tolentino had 19 points, while Paul Zamar and Robert Bolick added 15 and 14, respectively, for the Batang Pier, who ended the tilt with a 3-8 card.
TNT 134 – Hollis-Jefferson 31, Pogoy 22, Oftana 16, K.Williams 12, M.Williams 9, Chua 8, Khobuntin 7, Tungcab 7, Montalbo 6, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, Varilla 5, Castro 2, Cruz 2, Marcelo 1, Acuno 0.
NorthPort 110 – Murphy 35, Tolentino 19, Zamar 15, Bolick 14, Munzon 10, Caperal 5, Sumang 3, Chan 3, Taha 2, Calma 2, Ayaay 2, Salado 0, Vigil 0, Balagasay 0.
Quarterscores: 19-27, 66-43, 109-69, 134-110
The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.