TNT routs Columbian
TNT KaTropa made Columbian Dyip look like they didn’t belong in the same league.
Ruthless right off the bat, the KaTropa fired on all cylinders and didn’t let up to turn the Dyip into a total wreck Friday night, hammering out a 123-95 victory that gave TNT a share of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup lead at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
Man-mountain Josh Smith’s menacing presence proved enough from the start to drive the Dyip away from the paint and open opportunities for Terrence Romeo and Troy Rosario, who led the KaTropa to their fifth win in six games, tied with idle Rain or Shine.
In the second game, Meralco spoiled Justin Brownlee’s debut with Ginebra in this conference after escaping with a 93-82 victory.
The Bolts notched their fourth victory in six games, while dropping the Gin Kings to 1-4.
With Jayson Castro efficiently sharing the ball, the KaTropa leaned on Rosario and Romeo in building a 19-point advantage in the first period, a deficit Columbian wasn’t able to put a dent on the rest of the way.
Columbian dropped to 3-4 after taking a second straight loss.
“The game plan was to play hard from the start and finish the game in the first half,” said Rosario in Filipino, as he ended up as the most efficient KaTropa after scoring 21 points built on 10-for-14 shooting in just 19 minutes.
Rosario, one of four stalwarts of TNT who will banner the Gilas squad that will seek gold in the Asian Games in Indonesia in August, had 10 points in the first quarter and helped propel the KaTropa to 72 first half points.
TNT frustrated Columbian coach Ricky Dandan, who took full advantage of the All-Star Week break to instill a defensive mindset on his team.
It failed completely.
Instead, it was the KaTropa backcourt of Jericho Cruz, Roger Pogoy, Romeo and Castro who shut down Columbian scorers Rashawn McCarthy, Reden Celda and Jerramy King.
Smith, who replaced Jeremy Tyler, didn’t feel the need to assert himself as his beefy 290-pound frame alone adequately played the role for which he was hired.
“Josh added size for us inside and it really helped that we had a good start,” said TNT coach Nash Racela.
Cruz buried a long buzzer-beater from midcourt for a 32-point TNT bubble at the half.
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