(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
3 p.m. – Barako Bull vs Alaska
5:15 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs NLEX
One team needed the win; the other needed the workout. Both went away with what they came for.
The TNT Tropang Texters fortified their bid for a twice-to-beat slot in the playoffs by turning back the Globalport Batang Pier, 107-96, yesterday in the slowly-winding Smart Bro-PBA Philippine Cup elimination at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With their sixth win in 10 games, the Tropang Texters pulled alongside the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings at fifth place overall with their marquee matchup on Dec. 20 at the Mall of Asia Arena probably deciding which of them gains entry to the third-to-sixth bracket in the quarterfinals.
After the No. 1 and No. 2 teams advance outright to the best-of-7 semifinals, the next four teams get twice-to-beat incentives in the initial phase of the playoffs against the lower four ballclubs (seventh to 10th). The winners then meet in knockout matches for seats in the Final Four.
While TNT and Barangay Ginebra will ultimately dispute the third coveted berth, seventh-ranked Barako Bull, at 5-5 win-loss, could get into the picture for the fourth and last slot if the Energy get past the second-running Alaska Aces (8-2) today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A victory by Alaska, however, will hand TNT and Barangay Ginebra the twice-to-beat advantage on a silver platter, with their game tomorrow played for the benefit of ranking.
Against the Batang Pier, who nailed down a twice-to-beat spot despite their fourth loss in 11 games, the Tropang Texters needed to scrape and claw.
Playing with little pressure and requiring nothing more than a good sweat from a hard workout, Globalport started in playoff mode before easing up halfway through and then engaging TNT in some torrid offense in the fourth quarter.
The Texters, who were without rookie Moala Tautuaa (back spasms) and Ranidel de Ocampo (back strain), refused to be lulled even when Globalport’s Terrrence Romeo, Stanley Pringle and Joseph Yeo were tearing down a 19-point third quarter TNT lead.
Jason Castro, bucking a mild ankle sprain, scored 25 points on 10 of 20 from the floor, while Troy Rosario, TNT’s other celebrated draft pick, added 19 with three 3-pointers. The Texters bench also worked in overdrive, with Harvey Carey (12 rebounds), Danny Seigle and Aaron Aban each contributing nine points.
Aban, in particular, delivered the most significant blows, hitting back-to-back baskets to deny Globalport’s bid to fuel further a fightback from 65-46, a rally that brought the Batang Pier within 69-62 on Yeo’s triple with 4:48 left in the third.
Globalport coach Pido Jarencio, perhaps satisfied that his team had a good rev-up ahead of the playoffs, pulled out his dynamic duo will still minutes left in the game. By then Romeo (5 triples) and Pringle (6) had 48 points between them while Yeo had 14 off the bench, with four treys.
TNT 107 – Castro 25, Rosario 19, Aban 9, Carey 9, Fonacier 9, Seigle 9, Williams 7, Rosser 6, Reyes R. 6, Reyes J. 5, Miranda 3, Rodriguez 0.
GLOBALPORT 96 – Pringle 24, Romeo 24, Yeo 14, Semerad 9, Jensen 7, Mamaril 6, Kramer 6, Maierhofer 4, Washington 2, Isip 0, Paniamogan 0, Pena 0, Uyloan 0, Sumang 0.
Quarters: 15-22, 53-44, 83-69, 107-96
STAR 102 – Simon 26, Maliksi 13, Pingris 12, Barroca 11, Mallari 11, Taha 8, Yap 6, Melton 4, Sangalang 4, Reavis 3, Cruz 2, Torres 2.
BLACKWATER 89 – Lastimosa 18, Dela Cruz 17, Gamalinda 11, Cortez 10, Erram 10, Cervantes 9, Golla 8, Reyes 6, Ballesteros 0, Canada 0, Melano 0.
Quarters: 25-25, 52-42, 78-72, 102-89