ANTIPOLO—TNT hammered out its fifth straight victory at the expense of a resilient Columbian side, 101-98, to boost its chances of a playoff bonus Friday night at Ynares Center.
The KaTropa, who grabbed the lead early and kept an iron grip on it until the final moments of the payoff period, nearly blew an 18-point cushion in the face of a roaring Dyip rally.
“There were lapses,” TNT coach Bong Ravena admitted after the match. “Knowing the game, [they happen] … I just hope it won’t happen again.”
The KaTropa racked up their seventh win in 10 games and have a shot at a twice-to-beat incentive, but that will still depend on the results of other games.
Columbian fought back to within three and set itself up for a shot at an extra period when Rashawn McCarthy found himself open for a triple. But the Dyip skipper missed the shot and Columbian absorbed a seventh loss in 11 games to close out the conference.
Columbian, however, will play one more game—a waiting one.
The Dyip’s hopes for a playoff berth now rests on the results of the games of Magnolia, Alaska and NLEX.
The Hotshots later moved a step ahead of Columbian with a 97-87 decision over Blackwater that propelled them to a 5-5 slate.
Rome dela Rosa paced Magnolia with 17 while Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang added 16 each. Sangalang also had 10 rebounds and five assists.
Just a conference after a 7-4 showing, Blackwater suffered its ninth loss in 11 games to end their Philippine Cup campaign.
TNT will also play a waiting game of sorts, but at least, it has part of its fate in its control: a match on Sunday against NorthPort.
With Phoenix sealing the top spot and the first of two twice-to-beat advantages, three teams are on track for the second—TNT, Rain or Shine and Barangay Ginebra.
But Ravena is hardly concerned.
“Our focus now is to win our last game this Sunday. The rest? We have no control over it. Whatever happens, happens,” he said.