by Jonas Terrado
Game Today (Panabo City, Davao del Norte)
5 p.m. – San Miguel vs Phoenix Pulse
TNT KaTropa continued its timely surge in the PBA Philippine Cup after handing Alaska another disappointing setback, 92-78, at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Roger Pogoy, ranked fourth in the league in scoring, fired 24 points while Troy Rosario added 15 points and five rebounds as the KaTropa extended their winning streak to four games to secure a quarterfinals berth.
The KaTropa, who were in control for most of the way after a see-saw start, forged a tie for third with the defending champion San Miguel Beermen at 6-3.
It also kept TNT within pace in the race for the twice-to-beat advantage given to the top two teams after the elims.
“Let’s see if we still have a chance of getting the twice-to-beat, what’s important is to win our last two games,” said TNT coach Bong Ravena.
The remaining assignments favors TNT as it faces two teams currently with losing record.
TNT battles the Columbian Dyip on March 22 at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City before facing the NorthPort Batang Pier two days later at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Columbian has a 4-6 record while NorthPort is at 2-5.
Alaska has lost by an average of 17 points during the skid, an alarming situation for a team now on the bubble.
The losses sent the Aces to share of eighth to 10th places with the Meralco Bolts and NLEX Road Warriors.
Rain or Shine escaped with an 88-85 victory over Meralco to snap a two-game skid and end its elimination round campaign on a bright note in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
The Elasto Painters hit two of four free throws in the final 7.4 seconds to break an 85-all tie even as the Bolts survived a scare when Baser Amer missed an open three to finish the elims with an 8-3 record.
James Yap scored 14 points, Ed Daquioag produced 12 and Beau Belga grabbed 11 rebounds for Rain or Shine which bounced back from losses to TNT KaTropa (100-92) and Columbian Dyip (85-82).
Coach Caloy Garcia lauded his players’ resolve after ruing their “selfish” play during the two defeats.
“The players came up big and we needed them to come up big,” said Garcia, whose team stayed in contention for a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters.
Nico Salva had 18 points and veteran Reynel Hugnatan delivered 16 points and six boards but the Bolts fell to 3-6, needing to win their final two games to stay alive in the playoff race.
The Bolts dropped to 10th place in the standings.
TNT 92 – Pogoy 24, Rosario 15, Heruela 8, Castro 8, Semerad 8, Cruz 6, Trollano 4, Washington 2, Williams 1, Miranda 0, Casino 0, Bono 0.
ALASKA 78 – Cruz 19, Thoss 13, Enciso 12, Banchero 12, Teng 9, Ayaay 6, Pascual 5, Exciminiano 2, Baclao 0, Galliguez 0, Potts 0.
Quarters: 23-15, 47-38, 74-62, 92-78.
Rain or Shine 88 – Yap 14, Daquioag 12, Ahanmisi 10, Mocon 10, Torres 9, Rosales 8, Nambatac 7, Borboran 6, Norwood 5, Belga 4, Ponferada 3.
Meralco 85 – Salva 18, Hugnatan 16, Faundo 10, Amer 10, Hodge 8, Newsome 7, Canaleta 7, Jackson 7, Quinto 2, Pinto 0, Tolomia 0.
Quarters: 20-26, 44-35, 66-65, 88-85.