By JONAS TERRADO
(DHVSU Gym, Bacolor)
2 p.m. — NLEX vs Alaska
4:35 p.m. — Rain or Shine vs Phoenix
TNT flipped the switch in the third quarter after a seesaw first half to beat Blackwater, 96-76, as the PBA Philippine Cup officially resumed Wednesday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The unbeaten Tropang Giga put up 37 points in the third while limiting the Bossing to just 17 to produce a blowout win that kick off the league’s restart after a month-long layoff due to Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) regulations imposed in Metro Manila.
But TNT continued to search for that consistency coach Chot Reyes felt was still lacking during the first two weeks of the conference in late-July at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
After taking a 28-18 lead at the end of the first quarter, TNT allowed Blackwater to charge back in the second and claim a 43-37 halftime lead.
Blackwater even scored the first two points of the third courtesy of Ed Daquioag before things went in TNT’s way.
Rookie Mikey Williams, Jayson Castro and RR Pogoy got some help from role players Brian Heruela, Dave Marcelo and Glenn Khpbuntin on both ends which enabled TNT to turn things around and led 74-60 going into the fourth.
TNT would lead by a high of 26 during garbage time, with Kib Montalbo and J-Jay Alejandro capitalizing on the playing minutes, on its way to a 4-0 record and at presstime share the lead with Magnolia Pambansang Manok, which played Meralco in the third game.
“Our objective sa game na to was to put together 48 minutes of good basketball. Obviously we failed because Blackwater outplayed us in the first 24 minutes,” said Reyes.
“(Blackwater) came up with a very good, solid game plan against us and pinahirapan kami sa first half. Fortunately we were able to adjust and I think our depth showed in the second half. I think we wore them out with our pressure and our depth, that’s why we were able to pull this win.”
Williams produced a career-high 16 points for TNT in just his third PBA game despite a 6-of-16 shooting, Pogoy had 13 points, three rebounds and four assists while Castro added 11 points while playing inside the campus where he studied high school.
Blackwater fell to 0-5, extending its losing run to 13 consecutive games dating back to last season’s Philippine Cup bubble in Angeles City.
Meanwhile, four more teams will see action today at the same venue with NLEX taking on Alaska at 2 p.m. and Rain or Shine facing Phoenix Super LPG at 4:35 p.m.
NLEX aims to improve its 2-2 record despite the absence of Kiefer Ravena, who is currently in Japan to finalize requirements needed for his stint with the Shiga Lakestars in the B.League while Alaska enters the contest with a 2-3 slate.