TNT makes playoffs, routs Phoenix | Inquirer Sports
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TNT makes playoffs, routs Phoenix

/ 08:51 PM March 04, 2018

Photo by Tristan Tamayo/INQUIRER.net

TNT almost seemed to have given Phoenix a handicap, putting in Jayson Castro off the bench to start the game.

But it was a different story after the break as the four-time Best Player of the Conference stepped on the gas pedal to lead the KaTropa’s decimation of the Fuel Masters, 118-97, in a playoff for the last quarterfinals slot in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

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Castro was content to pick his spots early, but ultimately landed the haymaker in the third quarter, where he poured in 10 in TNT’s 40-point explosion. The KaTropa went on a 21-6 tear in the pivotal third period to take a 75-55 lead.

The star guard finished with a near-triple-double performance of 17 points, eight rebounds and nine assists.

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“I think at this point of the conference, all you want is a day to live,” said coach Nash Racela. “From our last elimination game, we’re fighting for our lives. Every game to us is a do or die game, so we live to fight another day. That’s what we wanted before we ended the eliminations.“

It didn’t hurt that KaTropa were getting their shots down from beyond the arc with their 15-of-36 shooting that helped extend their lead to as high as 29, 112-83, midway through the final frame.

Troy Rosario went 4-of-7 from three to topscore with 18 markers and four rebounds off the bench, Jericho Cruz contributed 17 points, and Roger Pogoy chipped in 15 markers and three rebounds in a balanced attack by TNT.

It was an impressive showing by the KaTropa, but they have no time for any celebration as they brace for defending three-time Philippine Cup champion and top-seed San Miguel, which is armed with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals on Tuesday.

“We’re number eight and we play the number one team, but the important thing is we’re still alive,” he said as he prepares for the rematch of last season’s Commissioner’s Cup Finals.

TNT averted missing the bus for the first time since the 2015 Governors’ Cup, and kept its streak of consecutive playoff appearances in the all-Filipino conference since failing to advance back in 1998.

Matthew Wright led Phoenix with 18 points, six rebounds, and six assists but shot just 1-of-6 from downtown.

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Doug Kramer, the hero of the Fuel Masters’ 74-72 elimination victory over TNT, mustered a double-double of 16 markers and 11 boards, while Gelo Alolino had 13.

The scores:

TNT 118 — Rosario 18, Castro 17, Cruz 17, Pogoy 15, Semerad 12, Williams 11, Tautuaa 10, Reyes 5, Garcia 4, Tamsi 4, Paredes 3, Nuyles 2, Carey 0, Golla 0, Torres 0.

PHOENIX 97 — Wright 18, Kramer 16, Alolino 13, Jazul 11, Perkins 10, Chan 9, Mendoza 7, Eriobu 5, Intal 4, Guevarra 2, Wilson 2, Cortes 0, Dehesa 0, Gamboa 0.

Quarters: 27-25, 54-49, 94-76, 118-97.

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TAGS: 2018 PBA Philippine Cup, Doug Kramer, Jayson Castro, Matthew Wright, Phoenix Fuel Masters, TNT KaTropa, Troy Rosario
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