KaTropa rout Elite, notch playoff bonus; Kings thump Hotshots
Tentative at first, TNT turned to its defense to thwart Blackwater, 115-97, and capture the other twice-to-beat incentive while extending its sterling run in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday night at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
The KaTropa cranked it up in the second quarter and took everything the Elite could muster, marching to a tournament-best seventh-straight win for 9-1 overall that assured them of the playoff bonus in the quarterfinals.
Terrence Jones had a big night once again, completing a third triple-double with 36 points, 16 rebounds, and 14 assists.
But he still stressed that it was TNT’s defensive might that took the fight out of Blackwater, which fell to 6-4 but still remained in good position heading into the playoffs.
Barangay Ginebra, packing so much firepower, broke away in the third quarter later in the night to rout Magnolia, 102-81, and remain in the upper half of the playoff draw.
Justin Brownlee had 49 points, 20 rebounds and missed a triple-double by just three assists in leading the Gin Kings to their sixth win in 10 games.
The Hotshots dropped to 5-4.
“[Defense] got us tonight’s game—it started for us in the first half with a lot of stops and then we get it in transition where everybody can score and be aggressive,” he said in a televised interview.
Jones’ view was echoed by coach Bong Ravena: “We really planned to lock in on defense—to be consistent with it. We didn’t take them (Elite) for granted.”
The KaTropa close out against Magnolia on July 17, and a win would give them No. 1 ranking and the lowest-ranked foe in the quarterfinals. TNT would need to beat that team just once to make the Final Four.
Idle NorthPort secured No. 2 seeding as early as last week and will face the No. 7 seed, also needing to win just once.
Team Nos. 3 and 6 will clash and Nos. 4 and 5 will battle in separate best-of-five series to determine the other two semifinalists.
Only NLEX has so far bombed out of contention, with Columbian Dyip within another loss of joining the Road Warriors.
Troy Rosario and four more locals tossed in twin digits for TNT, something which Jones said could be attributed to their ever-improving chemistry.
“[We’re] building chemistry. I know where my guys are going to be with those up and down shots. That’s all I could ask from them: be aggressive and shoot the ball,” he said.
Rookie Ray Parks Jr. scored 21 to pace the Elite.