by Jonas Terrado
Games Sunday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. — San Miguel vs NorthPort
6:45 p.m. — Phoenix Pulse vs Ginebra
RR Pogoy returned from a brief absence to score 28 points as TNT KaTropa clobbered Blackwater, 127-89, to boost its quest for a twice-to-beat advantage in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Pogoy, who missed Sunday’s win over Rain or Shine due to a flu, made 13-of-17 shots while adding six rebounds and four assists to put TNT in a tie for third place with idle San Miguel Beer at 5-3.
Other players stepped up for the KaTropa as Jericho Cruz posted 20 points and nine assists, Troy Rosario scored 17 points, Ryan Reyes posting 14 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals and Don Trollano adding 11.
TNT nailed its third straight victory during the Petron Blaze Saturday Special to reduce its deficit in the race for the twice-to-beat incentives given to the top two teams after the eliminations.
The KaTropa are 2.5 games off league-leader Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters, who will aim to secure the first twice-to-beat bonus against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in their 6:45 match at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ahead by one game over TNT and San Miguel is Rain or Shine, which is running second at 7-3.
San Miguel could close in on Rain or Shine if it beats NorthPort in the first game of Sunday’s twinbill at 4:30 p.m.
TNT led from start to finish and was up by a high of 44, with Pogoy making up for lost time.
Pogoy entered the game ranked sixth in scoring with an average of 19.8 points.
TNT’s scattered contributions on offense gave Jayson Castro little pressure to produce points as he was held to just two on 1-of-7 clip but dished out seven assists.
Mike DiGregorio delivered 20 points and Allein Maliksi posting 13 points but Blackwater fell to a league-worst 2-7 slate.
In the second game, Magnolia continued its mastery of Alaska after fashioning out a 103-86 victory in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Ian Sangalang had 24 points, 14 rebounds, six assists and three blocks as the Hotshots pounced on the Aces in their first meeting since their Governors’ Cup title showdown last December.
Paul Lee added 20 points, eight rebounds and four assists and Governors’ Cup Finals Most Valuable Player Mark Barroca added scored 19 points to key Magnolia’s climb to a tie for ninth place with NorthPort at 2-4.
Chris Banchero tallied 26 points, five rebounds and four assists but the Aces fall to 3-3 for a share of fifth place with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
TNT 127 – Pogoy 28, Cruz 20, Rosario 17, Reyes 14, Trollano 11, Semerad 9, Taha 8, Heruela 6, Casino 5, Carey 4, Williams 2, Castro 2, Bono 1.
Blackwater 89 – Digregorio 20, Maliksi 13, Banal 9, Al-Hussaini 8, Belo 8, Sena 6, Jose 6, Desiderio 5, Sumang 4, Javier 4, Dario 3, Cortez 2, Tratter 1, Eriobu 0.
Quarters: 19-11, 56-45, 90-72, 127-89
Magnolia 103 – Sangalang 24, Lee 20, Barroca 19, Brondial 12, Jalalon 12, Reavis 7, Ramos 3, Herndon 2, Melton 2, Dela Rosa 2, Pascual 0.
Alaska 86 – Banchero 26, Teng 17, Exciminiano 13, Cruz 9, Ayaay 6, Enciso 5, Thoss 4, Pascual 4, Baclao 2, Galliguez 0, Andrada 0.
Quarters: 27-27, 54-42, 75-59, 103-86