by Jonas Terrado
Games Today (Cuneta Astrodome)
4:30 p.m. – NorthPort vs Blackwater
6:45 p.m. – Magnolia vs Phoenix Pulse
TNT KaTropa gained another step in securing a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals after outlasting the Columbian Dyip, 109-102, in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
It took three quarters before the KaTropa were able to seize control of the contest as import Terrence Jones got some help during a breakaway in the fourth quarter and regain the solo lead with their seventh victory in eight games.
Yousef Taha, Ryan Reyes, Roger Pogoy and Jayson Castro scored key baskets along with Jones to give TNT a 94-80 with 5:00 left in the fourth after the two teams were locked in a 73-all tie in the early moments of the quarter.
“Columbian gave us a hard time, good thing we came back in the second half,” said TNT coach Bong Ravena.
Jones fell short of a fifth 40-point game of the season after scoring 39 with 17 rebounds, six assists and seven blocks.
Castro, back after getting married last Saturday, produced 22 points, five rebounds and six assists while Pogoy added 16 for the KaTropa, who overcame a third quarter deficit.
Behind import Terrence Prosper and rookie CJ Perez, the Dyip led 66-58 midway in the third but the trio of Castro, Pogoy and Reyes led a TNT uprising to lead 73-71 going into the fourth.
Prosper had 37 points and 20 rebounds in his second game since replacing Kyle Barone but the Dyip dropped to 1-5 after a second straight defeat.
Perez posted 22 points, nine rebounds, seven assists and two steals and fellow rookie JP Calvo added 15 points.
Meanwhile, Surprise early contenders NorthPort and Blackwater parade their new players when they face off in a duel at the same venue.
Sol Mercado, Kevin Ferrer and Jervy Cruz debut for the Batang Pier in the 4:30 p.m. opener against an Elite side featuring new import Jameel McKay.
Magnolia shoots for a third straight win after a 0-2 start opposite Phoenix Pulse in the second game of the Petron Saturday Special set at 6:45 p.m.
The NorthPort-Blackwater tussle is expected to be fierce with both teams jockeying for position in the top two spot.
TNT 109 – Jones 39, Castro 22, Pogoy 16, Rosario 8, Reyes 8, Trollano 5, Taha 4, T. Semerad 3, D. Semerad 2, Heruela 2, Carey 0.
COLUMBIAN 102 – Prospers 37, Perez 22, Calvo 15, Corpuz 8, McCarthy 5, Celda 5, Khobuntin 4, Cahilig 4, Agovida 0, Reyes 0, Camson 0.
Quarters: 22-27, 51-50, 73-71, 109-102