by Jonas Terrado
Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. — Rain or Shine vs Columbian
7 p.m. — Magnolia vs Phoenix Pulse
ANTIPOLO CITY — TNT KaTropa showed little signs of rust despite a 28-day layoff and frustrated erstwhile leader Rain or Shine, 100-92, in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center here.
The KaTropa scored the final 12 points of the second quarter behind Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario and the returning Jericho Cruz to take a 56-39 halftime lead and seize control of the contest.
Rain or Shine got to within four, 95-91, on James Yap’s basket with 32.6 seconds in the fourth but it proved to be too late as TNT improved to 4-3 in the season-opening tournament.
TNT prevailed despite playing for the first time since an 80-75 overtime victory over Magnolia last Feb. 3 at the Mall of Asia Arena and Roger Pogoy failing to see action due to a flu.
“We’ve practicing really, really hard during the break,” said coach Bong Ravena. “We really want team to focus on defense and establish that mentally consistently every game.”
Rosario and Castro, fresh from helping Gilas Pilipinas secure a spot in the FIBA World Cup, and Cruz were among the key reasons why TNT won back-to-back games to move up to fourth place.
Castro scored 20 points, seven rebounds and 10 assists, Rosario also had 20 points and six rebounds and Cruz added 15 points in his season debut after missing the first six games due to a strained hamstring.
James Yap delivered 18 points but Rain or Shine saw its four-game winning streak snapped to drop in second place at 7-2.
Idle Phoenix Pulse, carrying a 7-1 record, benefited from Rain or Shine’s defeat by grabbing the solo lead in the standings.
Raymond Almazan failed to see action for Rain or Shine after sustaining an sprained ankle while practicing for Gilas Pilipinas before the final window of the World Cup Qualifiers.
TNT 100 – Castro 20, Rosario 20, Cruz 15, Reyes 10, Trollano 7, Washigton 6, Taha 6, Heruela 6, Williams 5, Semerad 3, Carey 2.
ROS 92 – Yap 18, Ahanmisi 14, Daquioag 11, Alejandro 11, Mocon 10, Ponferada 7, Rosales 6, Belga 6, Torres 3, Borboran 2, Maiquez 2, Nambatac 2, Norwood 0, Onwubere 0.
Quarters: 23-20, 56-39, 75-65, 100-92.