Tropang Giga rise to 3-0 with another close win
Chot Reyes hosed down any rising excitement within his quarters after TNT pulled out a gutsy 84-80 victory over Phoenix Super LPG in the PBA Philippine Cup eliminations on Sunday night.
“Still a long way to go,” he said shortly after the victory at Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig—a fitting present as he turned 58.
Despite going 3-0, Reyes feels that his charges have yet to play a solid game.
“I don’t think we’ve even played three good quarters. Today, we played the second well and the fourth really well. But we’re on that stage that we should already be able to string four good quarters together,” he said.
TNT found itself in holes as deep as 16 points before a fourth-quarter fightback led by Troy Rosario, who scored eight straight points to wrest the lead from a Phoenix side that shot with deadly accuracy until the final two minutes when it truly mattered.
Rosario wound up with a team-best 15 points, as Roger Pogoy and Jayson Castro tossed in 13 and 10, respectively to doom Phoenix to a 1-4 record.
Matthew Wright led the Fuel Masters with 15 points with Jason Perkins adding 14 more in the losing stand. Both, however, were off target in the final two minutes.
Meanwhile, Rain or Shine realized just in time that it’s the simple ways that often lead to good results.
Trailing three-fourths of the way, the Painters scooted away in the fourth quarter to trip Terrafirma, 83-77, and win for the first time in the last three games.
“As you saw in that fourth quarter, we really simplified things. We let our guards kind of just go along into create mode,” said coach Chris Gavina, whose charges improved to 4-2.
No one benefitted from that tweak down the stretch more than Gabe Norwood, who scored eight of his 16 points in succession midway the final frame for a 71-67 edge—one that the Painters held on to the rest of the way.
“We just had to find a way to get stops. Usually, our defense turns to offense, and that’s basically what happened in the fourth [quarter],” said Norwood, a 13-year veteran.
Rey Nambatac tossed in 17 points while Adrian Wong added 15 as Rain or Shine rebounded from back-to-back losses, including an embarrassing show against Alaska, where the Painters were held to just 48 points, the second-worst in league history.
Juami Tiongson scored 20 points to pace the Dyip, who were missing top draft pick Joshua Munzon due to a finger injury.
Roosevelt Adams had 13 for the Dyip, who dropped to 0-4.
“It started with just—like Gabe said—good vibes in the fourth quarter. And we utilized our defensive energy to kind of fire up our offense,” said Gavina, whose club will face defending champion Barangay Ginebra next, should the PBA push through playing in Batangas province once Metro Manila goes under extreme lockdown starting Friday.
“I think we’ll be fine if we can just be consistent,” said Norwood.
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