Alone on top
Leading up to the contest, TNT coach Bong Ravena said the KaTropa wouldn’t take the young, struggling Columbian squad lightly.
True enough, TNT found the Dyip a tough foe to handle, leaning on superb performances by Terrence Jones and Jayson Castro to carve out a 109-102 victory Friday night and grab the solo lead in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
Jones had 29 points, 17 rebounds, seven blocks and six assists while Castro added 22 points, six assists and two steals as the duo book-ended a crucial fourth quarter run that sealed TNT’s seventh win in eight games.
That put the KaTropa closer into a spot in the top two, which will have twice-to-beat protection in the quarterfinals.
And against an upset-minded Dyip, the KaTropa needed every bit of those numbers put by Jones and Castro.
“We knew they were going to come out strong. They’re young and they [thrive] in the open court,” said Ravena.
“During the start of the game, we were slow that’s why we struggled. Big credit to Columbian for giving us a hard time. Their wings gave us a hard time defending. Good thing we got back in the second half,” added Ravena, whose charges could not shrug off the stubborn Columbian five.
That changed midway through the fourth, when Jones hit a three-point play to get a 12-2 run rolling. Castro capped that exchange with a triple that allowed the KaTropa to stretch a four-point lead to 94-80, five minutes left in the game.
In between their baskets, Jones had an assist and Castro added two dimes to help produce the three other field goals in that run.
Lester Prosper bore the brunt of production for the Dyip, registering 37 points and 20 rebounds as he tried to lead a late comeback. CJ Perez, meanwhile, uncorked 12 of his 22 points in the final period, including the lone basket in that key TNT run.
But their heroics couldn’t pull the Dyip through.
San Miguel Beer didn’t need any late stand, leaning on Alex Cabagnot’s hot hands early to cruise to a 119-107 victory over Alaska in the second game.
Cabagnot finished with 31 points, shouldering a lot of the Beermen’s offense in the first quarter before Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter and Charles Rhodes helped the Beermen storm away in the second period for their second win in five games.
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