TNT gets blown out by home team Utsunomiya in EASL opener
UTSUNOMIYA — Saddled by frosty shooting and individual play, TNT was blown off the floor Wednesday night by Utsunomiya, 99-66, in the East Asia Super League’s opening night at Nikkan Arena here.
The Tropang Giga shot 19-for-58 from the field, as import Jalen Hudson was the only player to reach twin digits with 28 points.
Daniel Ochefu, the other reinforcement, was the next best scorer with just nine points. Calvin Oftana led the locals with eight points, while Jayson Casto chipped in seven more before hurting his wrist.
“It wasn’t a beautiful game from us. Hats off to the home team … they played really well and it was obvious that the team had real chemistry and their imports played really well with the locals,” said interim coach Jojo Lastimosa.
“I’m not making excuses, but it showed that they’re very, very well coached as well. I just thought that we should’ve played a little better,” he added.
Mikey Williams, who was earlier ruled out, only had five points. Also coming off an injury, Roger Pogoy finished with just as much.
It also did not help TNT that it was outscored in the other statistical races. The Tropang Giga accounted for only eight assists against the enemy’s 24, and recorded just 31 rebounds versus the host’s 24.
Lastimosa and his charges were actually up, 26-25, in the first frame until a scorching fightback Jerrett Grant and Josh Scott, two of the three big men Lastiomsa was wary of.
Grant put up 24 points and 14 rebounds, while Josh Scott 20 and 13 to whip the Tropang Giga and help the defending B.League champions bury the visitors early in a hole so deep to coast to a victory before an active home crowd.
It was a disappointing first outing for the Philippine Cup bridesmaids, who are currently leading the Philippine Basketball Association’s third conference with an 8-1 mark.
And things won’t be easier for TNT as it faces Korea Basketball League champion Seoul SK Knights this Friday.