by Jonas Terrado
TNT KaTropa erased a 15-point deficit behind a big second half to outlast Alaska, 104-93, in their do-or-die quarterfinals and arrange a semis clash with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The KaTropa banked on import Terrence Jones, Troy Rosario, Jayson Castro and Don Trollano to prevent the Aces from becoming the fourth No. 8 team in PBA history to beat the top seed in the quarters.
“Yung momentum nasa Alaska at medyo hirap kami nung first half. Buti na lang we stayed in the game and stayed composed,” said TNT coach Bong Ravena.
(“Momentum was on Alaska’s side and we really had a hard time in the first half. Good thing we stayed in the game and we stayed composed.”)
After a quiet outing in Sunday’s 108-72 loss that forced a rubber match, Jones put up 37 points, 22 rebounds and nine assists to send TNT to its first semifinal appearance since the 2016 Governors’ Cup.
Rosario produced 20 points, Castro 17 points and six assists and Trollano with 14 points for the KaTropa, who will take on Ginebra in a best-of-five affair which starts Friday night at the Big Dome.
Simon Enciso scored 24 points spiked by seven threes but Alaska couldn’t preserved its 45-30 second quarter lead to fall short of completing an upset that looked unlikely after barely making the playoffs as the eighth seed.
Import Diamon Simpson put up 19 points and 16 rebounds and Chris Banchero produced 14 points and nine assists in the loss.
TNT trailed 54-44 at the half but outscored Alaska, 35-27, in the third to pull within 81-79.
Seldom-used Jay Washington scored back-to-back baskets to put TNT in front for the first time since late in the first period for 85-83. Jones eventually put the KaTropa in comfortable position, draining a three-pointer for 98-90 with 1:32 left.
TNT KATROPA 104 — Jones 37, Rosario 20, Castro 17, Trollano 14, Pogoy 12, Washington 4, Reyes 0, Heruela 0, A. Semerad 0, D. Semerad 0.
ALASKA 93 — Enciso 24, Simpson 19, Banchero 14, Manuel 10, Teng 9, Casio 7, Racal 7, Cruz 3, Baclao 0.
Quarters: 19-27; 44-54; 79-81; 104-93.