TNT’s RR Pogoy welcomed Alaska to the PBA bubble—he sent them off, too
Alaska played its first and last games inside the PBA bubble against the same team. Both times, the Aces established early double-digit leads. Both times, the Aces were torched by one person.
TNT again turned to RR Pogoy who helped buy his team ample time to prepare for the next challenge after scoring 34 points in a 104-83 victory over Alaska in the Philippine Cup on Saturday.
Pogoy also added eight rebounds, four assists and three steals for the Tropang Giga, who became the second team to advance to the semifinals after No. 1 Barangay Ginebra.
“We’re really Roger’s (Pogoy) favorite, don’t you think?,” said Alaska coach Jeff Cariaso.
Well, the numbers certainly back that up.
Pogoy had a career-high 45 points and 10 triples against Alaska in the bubble’s opening night here at Smart Clark Giga City. In two games against the Aces, he averaged 39.5 points, eight rebounds, three assists and three steals per game. He nailed six triples in Saturday’s match and in both matches against the Aces, the TNT star and Gilas Pilipinas mainstay shot 16 of 27 (59 percent) from beyond the arc.
“He won’t be in our national team for nothing,” Cariaso said.
“I wanted to borrow one of [my players’ jerseys] so I could be the one guarding him,” joked the former Alaska star, one of the league’s top-flight two-way players in his time who was often tasked to guard imports.
TNT had a twice-to-beat bonus in the matchup, but knowing that the next phase is going to be doubly long and arduous, the Tropang Giga quickly dispatched of the Aces to gain some breathing room and ample prep time for their next opponent.
Although they did have to overhaul some shaky moments in the game.
“At first we were struggling,” coach Bong Ravena told reporters here. “We had so many breakdowns, but fortunately we pulled through.”
“The clincher, really, was the third quarter where we were able [to assemble] a 10-0 run. That gave us confidence as the game went on,” he added.
Pogoy not only fueled that run. He was the spark in that pivotal third quarter as he poured 16 of his 34 points in that frame alone to help TNT build leads as many as 18 points.
The Aces looked in fighting form early, even taking double-digit leads. They suffered a literal blow in the 9:47 mark of the payoff period when Abel Galliguez landed head-first after colliding with Parks. He was later brought to Medical City in Clark after suffering a big gash on top of his left eyebrow.
That knocked the wind out of the Aces, who still had plenty of time to mount a comeback. And the play had Cariaso fuming after TNT looked to have Galliguez penalized.
“I was talking to (TNT consultant Mark) Dickel,” the Aces mentor said of the altercation that ensued midcourt just after the stoppage.
“They already brought out the stretcher, we already got a hint [Galliguez] is going to be brought to the hospital … and you’re still looking for a [flagrant foul penalty 1],” Cariaso said.
“That’s where I became a bit upset. We all want to win, but you win the right way. You have to be a little bit sensitive to the players on the court.”
TNT can get up to three days’ worth of rest and recovery before they get back on action against the winner of the Phoenix-Magnolia duel being played as of press time.