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TNT still untouchable with new import

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PBA IMAGES

WITH ANOTHER blazing finish, TNT KaTropa clung to the lead after the Mahindra Enforcers tumbled down from the top in the PBA Governors’ Cup eliminations last week.

The Texters scrambled past the hard-luck Blackwater Elite, 109-89, for win No. 5 after the Enforcers, failing to sustain a sizzling start, absorbed their first loss from the resurgent Phoenix Fuel Masters, 100-94.

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TNT paraded a new import for the injured Mario Little and Mychal Ammons produced a double-double effort of 18 points and 18 rebounds. And Jason Castro, who had earlier begged off from the game to deal with a family problem, returned to preside over a 35-18 last-quarter assault by TNT from a 74-71 third-quarter lead.

Hastening the downfall of the Elite, now among the tailenders in the 12-team field at 1-4, was the injury to import Eric Dawson, who sat out the last quarter due to a bad back and local stars JP Erram and Mike Cortez.

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Meanwhile, Mahindra had looked a cinch for a 5-0 start like TNT when the Enforcers stormed to a 34-14 lead against Phoenix early in the second quarter. But the Fuel Masters, working behind a swarming defense and with Cyrus Baguio waxing hot, reduced the gap to 45-41 at the half.

Then Baguio, traded by Alaska before the tournament started, combined with Mark Borboran to outsteady the Enforcers down the wire and clinch only the second Phoenix win in five games.

With TNT now a strong bet to make it to the top four teams that will enjoy a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals, the race for the other three premium bets tightened up. 

Mahindra’s meltdown against Phoenix allowed Ginebra San Miguel to tie the Enforcers for second at 4-1 with defending champion San Miguel Beer close behind at 3-1.

By splitting two games against Meralco and Alaska, the Rain or Shine Elasto Masters tied the Bolts at 3-2 followed by Phoenix and NLEX at 2-3.

The Painters first took a 109-102 decision from the Bolts then survived the ejection of coach Yeng Guiao on two technicals in the third quarter to repulse the Alaska Aces, 117-114.

The loss was the third straight for Alaska in a 1-4 card like the disappointing Star Hotshots, who ditched former Best Import Marcus Blakely for Joel Wright but still fell, 88-85, to NLEX.

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* * *

We join the call for a complete overhaul of the Association of Boxing Alliances in the Philippines (Abap) following the misadventures of lightweight Charly Suarez and light flyweight Rogen Ladon in the ongoing Rio de Janeiro Olympics in Brazil.

Abap president Ricky Vargas had already announced plans to step down while announcing a new election of officials probably in December who can inject new life to a national sports association that has been the pride of the country’s Olympic participation.

Boxing last produced a silver medal through light flyweight Onyok Velasco in 1996 in Atlanta.

Nothing has been heard so far from Abap secretary general Patrick Gregorio and executive director Ed Picson regarding their future plans but they also share the blame in the boxing debacle in Rio.

After the close 2-1 decision loss of Suarez, Ladon, who took a bye in his first bout and loomed set to advance to the medal rounds, bowed out with a 3-0 loss. Ladon’s exit was particularly galling because officials attributed the defeat of the Bago, Negros Occidental fighter to “losing his focus.”

It was pure and simple loss of heart and officials, including the coaches, should have noticed Ladon didn’t have it since he joined the national pool in 2010 until it was too late.

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TAGS: ABAP, Charly Suarez, Jayson Castro, Mychal Ammons, PBA, Phoenix Fuel Masters, Ricky Vargas, Rio Olympics, Rogen Ladon, TNT KaTropa
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