Coach Nash Racela may have not achieved his immediate call for changes yesterday, but he got the win TNT KaTropa desperately needed after downing Mahindra, 104-92, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Racela, who has been implementing some sort of a youth movement since taking over the post in the fourth game of the conference, got vital contributions from Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy, Mo Tautuaa and Kris Rosales, who all breached double figures for the KaTropa.
But the key figures of the team’s championship runs in recent years also delivered at the crunch, particularly Larry Fonacier and Ryan Reyes.
Fonacier and Reyes went downtown during a decisive 10-1 run in a two-minute stretch, turning a slim 88-87 lead into 98-88 with five minutes remaining in the contest.
That run virtually sealed TNT’s fifth win in nine games, tying Mahindra for fourth place in the team standings.
TNT also snapped a two-game skid – both double-digit losses to NLEX (110-96) and Star (90-77).
“I see that the players are finding ways to play together, trying to deliver a positive outcome,” Racela said after the game. “For us it’s a process, but I’m just hoping we’re moving towards the right direction.
“And it takes a lot of sacrifice from the players, especially from the veterans,” he added. “They got used to longer playing minutes, ngayon it’s not the case anymore. I think the earlier they accept that reality then I think the earlier we’d be moving forward.”
Rosario led the way for the KaTropa with 18 points and nine rebounds in 27 minutes, capping off his splendid play with a follow-up slam that settled the final count. Pogoy set a new career-high with 16 points while adding four assists and four steals.
Tautuaa produced 14 points and four rebounds even as the oldies like Fonacier and Castro delivered 11 and 10, respectively. Rosales scored 10 of his 11 points in the first half.
TNT 104 – Rosario 18, Pogoy 16, Tautuaa 14, Rosales 11, Fonacier 11, Castro 10, Reyes 7, Rosser 7, De Ocampo 7, Golla 2, Carey 1, Williams 0.
MAHINDRA 92 – Mallari 19, Paniamogan 10, Yee 10, Revilla 8, Deutchman 7, Celda 7, Escoto 6, Salva 6, Arana 6, Galanza 5, Ballesteros 3, Elorde 3, Eriobu 2, Digregorio 0,
Quarters: 29-25; 51-57; 82-78; 104-92