By JONAS TERRADO
TNT turned what was expected to be a dogfight with Meralco into an unexpected demolition job, rolling to a 91-76 victory to extend its unbeaten start to five games Friday, Sept. 3 in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Rookie Mikey Williams scored a season-high 27 points in just his fourth game in the league as the Tropang Giga dominated the battle between the league’s top teams to remain as the only one left without a defeat this conference.
The Tropang Giga led by a high of 30 points in the second quarter, then prevented the Bolts from completing a much-bigger comeback compared to their 95-94 win over the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots two nights earlier.
“Fortunately, we had a bigger enough lead, but we knew Meralco was going to come back and we watched very intently how they got their W the last time out and we knew their ability to come back. So the key was our ability to stay patient and not panic and just to stay relaxed,” said coach Chot Reyes.
RR Pogoy had 20 points, five rebounds and two steals while Jayson Castro came off the bench to produce 14 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals for the Tropang Giga.
Williams’ best game in a Tropang Giga jersey highlighted by an 11-of-20 clip including five threes came after posting an average of 10.7 points on 26.7-percent shooting.
He combined with Castro for 18 points as TNT turned a 22-13 lead after the first quarter into 54-26 at the break.
TNT would lead 56-26 to open the third on Kelly Williams’ basket before Meralco leaned on its pressure defense to try and attempt a rally.
Meralco got to within 11 (76-65) on a Reynel Hugnatan’s conversion, but five straight points by Mikey Williams capped off a 7-0 response to make it 83-65.
Nards Pinto had 16 points and Hugnatan 14 points and 11 rebounds for Meralco which slipped to third at 5-2.
Chris Newsome, the hero of Meralco’s victory the last time, was held to five points on 2-of-5 shooting.
TNT 91 — Williams M. 27, Pogoy 20, Castro 14, Erram 9, Khobuntin 8, Heruela 5, Rosario 4, Williams K. 3, Montalbo 0, Alejandro 0, Marcelo 0.
MERALCO 76 — Pinto 16, Hugnatan 14, Black 8, Hodge 8, Belo 6, Quinto 6, Newsome 5, Caram 4, Maliksi 3, Almazan 2, Pasaol 2, Jamito 2, Jackson 0, Jose 0.
Quarters: 22-13, 54-26, 74-59, 91-76.