Jones, KaTropa looking unstoppable
Their stock boosted no end by back-to-back conquests of last year’s finalists, the TNT KaTropa underscored their status as strong title contenders of the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup even more with Terrence Jones looking a cinch as Best Import awardee this time.
The 27-year-old Jones, a 6-foot-9 southpaw who played four seasons with the Houston Rockets, scattered a season-high 49 points while grabbing 18 rebounds as the KaTropa turned back the Meralco Bolts, 104-91, and surged on top with their sixth win in seven games of the eliminations Saturday.
It was the fourth 40-point game for Jones, who scored 18 straight points in one stretch to give TNT a 101-82 lead in the fourth quarter. He finished with seven three-pointers in 11 attempts.
But Jones is not just a triggerman. He flashed his all-around skills with a triple double of 17 points, 14 rebounds and 16 assists when the KaTropa blasted the defending champion Barangay Ginebra Kings,104-96, Wednesday.
Crack TNT playmaker Jayson Castro missed the Meralco game to take a bride in Pampanga and forward Anthony Semerad sat it out with tonsillitis, but the KaTropa found another three-point specialist in the veteran Ryan Reyes, who shot six triples, including one he turned into a four-point play to wind up with 19 points.
Roger Pogoy earlier unloaded 10 triples in 18 attempts to pace the KaTropa with a career-high 38 points against the Gin Kings.
Four days earlier, TNT roared ahead by 20 points midway in the first quarter and went on to pulverize recent Philippine Cup winner San Miguel Beer, 110-97. Jones paced the KaTropa with 30 points.
SMB is fielding the same Charles Rhodes who sparked the Beermen to the 2016-2017 Commissioner’s Cup title with a 4-2 series win in the finals against the then TNT Texters. The Best Import award went to Rhodes which Justin Brownlee grabbed last year when the Gin Kings dethroned the Beermen,
SMB finally broke into the win colum in three games Friday with a 127-106 victory over early leader Blackwater, whose import Alex Stepheson did not play with a bum stomach and later went home to the US for treatment. He promised to return in time for the Elite’s next game against NorthPort on June 22.
Like SMB, Magnolia also took a second loss in a 102-99 decision from NorthPort, now with a second-running 5-1 card. But the Hotshots finally broke through against winless NLEX, 98-88, also Friday.
Meanwhile, coach Louie Alas guided Phoenix to a 78-76 win over Alaska in his return from a two-game suspension in the aftermath of the tumultuous Phoenix-TNT game that led to the indefinite suspension of Fuel Master Calvin Abueva