TNT routed reigning champ Barangay Ginebra in a rematch of last year’s finalists, 88-67, in the 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup Sunday evening at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Mikey Williams continued his scoring outburst as he finished with a game-high 27 points, including 15 in the first half that saw the Tropang Giga seize control in the second quarter on the way to their eighth win in nine games.
The 29-year-old, who erupted for 36 on a 65-percent clip versus NLEX last Friday, shot 55-percent. He also had four rebounds, two assists, and a steal.
“In our board before the game, malaki ang sinulat namin, ‘BETTER.’ We just wanted to make sure that we were better in this game than last game,” said head coach Chot Reyes. “Hopefully we find ways to continue getting better.”
Jayson Castro was back to his usual ways as he contributed 14 points in the win. He was scoreless versus the Road Warriors, days after chiming in just one point in their harsh defeat in the hands of San Miguel Beer.
He made 10 of his points in the second period, where he went a perfect 4-of-4 from the floor as he led the Tropa’s rally that saw them turn a slim two-point lead to 32-20 with 6:44 to go. TNT scored 25 in the frame alone.
The Barangay tried to chip away the deficit in the second half, but Castro helped out in keeping them at bay. And his teammates picked it up from there as their lead swelled to as big as 24, 82-58, with 6:16 left in the game.
“People are saying last game masama ang laro ni Jayson because he didn’t score but if you look at the other statistics and also his plus-minus when he was in, he was hugely positive,” said Reyes of his long-time guard.
“I think that speaks a lot about his willingness to sacrifice. Kaya that’s a great example sa ibang players sa team,” he added.
Troy Rosario also had 14 points, as Roger Pogoy added 13 markers and eight rebounds in the win that kept TNT atop the standings at 8-1.
“We don’t look at it that way,” said Reyes on the possibilities of being the top team could bring. “We want to make sure to keep in focus what’s in front of us.
“And as you know, every game, what’s in front of us, we all have to pass the test, the antigen test. Sa amin, yun ang unang pinaka-importante. Focus now on the task at hand which is the game at hand. We’re not looking too far ahead.”
Meanwhile, Japeth Aguilar had 18 points and six rebounds to lead Ginebra, who have fallen to ninth in the standings with a 3-5 record.
Christian Standhardinger had 14 points and nine rebounds. Scottie Thompson made 13 points, seven boards, and four assists, as reigning BPC Stanley Pringle supplied 12 markers, six caroms, and five dimes.
The loss saw LA Tenorio miss all of his 13 shots from the field as he went scoreless in 37 minutes. But he had five rebounds and five assists.
TNT 88 – M. Williams 27, Rosario 14, Castro 14, Pogoy 13, K. Williams 7, Montalbo 5, Marcelo 4, Erram 2, Exciminiano 2, Reyes 0, Heruela 0, Alejandro 0, Javier 0, Mendoza 0.
Ginebra 67 – J. Aguilar 18, Standhardinger 14, Thompson 13, Pringle 12, Mariano 6, Ayaay 2, Caperal 2, Tenorio 0, Dillinger 0, Salado 0, Tolentino 0, Enriquez 0, R. Aguilar 0, Devance 0.
Quarterscores: 20-16, 45-32, 62-52, 88-67.