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Playoff hopes alive

Texters stay in hunt; Painters make q’finals
By: - Reporter / @cedelfptINQ
/ 05:15 AM March 01, 2018

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TNT coach Nash Racela was candid enough to admit that he didn’t know what to expect from his team heading into its do-or-die clash with NLEX last Wednesday.

With key players loaned to Gilas Pilipinas and new acquisition Jericho Cruz barely a week with the Texters, TNT’s buildup was far from ideal for a game where its string of playoff appearances was on the line.

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But with Cruz coming out strong, the Texters came out playing with verve and urgency as they overwhelmed the Road Warriors, 101-75, to stay in the quarterfinal race in the PBA Philippine Cup at Mall of Asia Arena.

Acquired in a deal with Rain or Shine, Cruz provided much-needed firepower with 17 points and five assists in 30 minutes, while Kelly Williams wound up with 17 and 16 rebounds.

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“We needed to win to give ourselves a chance at the playoffs,” said Racela, whose team, at 5-6, now awaits the remainder of the elimination round to determine whether it will figure in a playoff or gain an outright seat in the quarterfinals.

Later, injury-hit Rain or Shine found an unlikely hero in Jewel Ponferrada as the Elasto Painters rolled past the San Miguel Beermen, 95-80, to formalize their entry to the quarterfinals.

Ponferrada knocked in all of his 17 points in the second half, where the Painters pulled away for their sixth win in 10 games.

Despite the loss, the Beermen will go into the playoff as the No. 1 seed.

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TAGS: Jericho Cruz, NLEX, PBA Philippine Cup, TNT
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