By JONAS TERRADO
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4 p.m. — Terrafirma vs NorthPort
6:45 p.m. — Meralco vs San Miguel
TNT marked its return from a long break due to the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers with a convincing 106-93 win over Blackwater in the PBA Governors’ Cup Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Giga led throughout the match but had to stay on their toes amid the Bossing’s repeated comeback attempts to claim victory in their first game in almost two weeks.
Rookie Mikey Williams had 23 points, six rebounds, two assists and four steals while import Aaron Fuller kept his improved form by tallying 16 points and 22 rebounds as TNT claimed its third straight win for a 5-4 record.
“I told the team that these are the games that I fear the most when everyone expects us to win and the odds are stacked in our favor,” said TNT coach Chot Reyes, coming off a pressure-packed stint handling Gilas in the qualifiers.
“These are the games that I really dread the most and all I asked was to make sure the other team doesn’t outwork us and I’m glad that we started that way,” added Reyes, who put six Tropang Giga in the Cubao bubble last week.
The result also enhanced the Tropang Giga’s chances in the race for the twice-to-beat advantage given to the top four teams at the end of the eliminations.
TNT has Terrafirma and NorthPort next week, needing to win both games to give itself a chance to have that elusive quarterfinal incentive.
Blackwater dropped to 0-10, in danger of suffering a winless campaign for the second straight conference with solo leader Magnolia Pambansang Manok as its last opponent.
The Bossing also absorbed a record-extending 29th straight defeat despite 26 points, 15 rebounds, nine assists and two steals from import Shawn Glover and 21 points from Jvee Casio.
Meanwhile, San Miguel Beer and Meralco collide in a battle that may decide both teams’ chances of a twice-to-beat tonight at the same venue.
The game is at 6:45 p.m. with Meralco sitting in third at 6-3 but has lost two in a row and San Miguel in a share of fourth at 6-4.
SMB remained in the hunt after a 104-100 victory over Rain or Shine two nights ago behind import Shabazz Muhammad.
NorthPort guns for a fifth straight win after a 0-5 start when it takes on Terrafirma in the 4 p.m. opener.
TNT 106 — Williams M. 23, Fuller 16, Pogoy 16, Reyes 16, Rosario 8, Alejandro 6, Montalbo 5, Castro 5, Khobuntin 5, Erram 4, Williams K. 2, Heruela 0, Banal 0.
BLACKWATER 93 — Glover 26, Casio 21, Suerte 14, McCarthy 7, Desiderio 7, Amer 6, Paras 4, Ebona 4, Ayonayon 2, Baloria 2, Washington 0, Chauca 0, Melton 0, Escoto 0, Nabong 0.
Quarters: 24-16, 49-36, 80-65, 106-93.