TNT bucked off a slow start to get back on the winning column at the expense of the erstwhile streaking Blackwater, 92-83 in the 43rd PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night.
After trailing by double digits in the first half, the KaTropa regrouped after the break as they proved to be the steadier team down the road to crowd the middle pack of the team standings midway through the conference, sharing identical 2-2 slates with NLEX, Alaska, Rain or Shine, Phoenix and latest victim Blackwater.
With Roger Pogoy and Jayson Castro leading the attack, TNT took command late in the fourth quarter with a 76-59 lead midway through the final canto but refusing to surrender just like that, Blackwater launched one last rally, this time a 20-9 blast to trim the lead at 85-79 inside the last two minutes.
The Elite even forced a steal but a costly error by Mike DiGregorio in the 1:24 mark put the game out of reach for them as Castro made them pay with an and-one in the next possession to seal TNT’s victory.
The sniping sophomore Pogoy finished with a game-high of 24 points to go along 8 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 steals while Castro tallied an all around numbers of 17 markers, 5 boards, 3 dimes, 3 steals and 2 blocks.
Meanwhile, JP Erram continued to impress on his return from an ACL injury with yet another 20-point performance on top of 8 rebounds, 4 steals and 2 blocks. However, it was not still enough to lift the Elite to their third win in a row as Mike Cortez was the only one who had a key support for Erram with 14 points, 5 rebounds and 3 assists.
Mac Belo and Allein Maliksi who can’t be stopped in their mammoth win against Ginebra last Friday were limited to just 9 points apiece.
Blackwater eyes payback against Globalport on Friday at the Cuneta Astrodome while TNT looks to get a run going versus sister team Meralco on Sunday at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo.
TNT 92 – Pogoy 24, Castro 17, Garcia 12, Semerad 11, Rosario 9, Williams 6, Tautuaa 6, Reyes 2, Golla 0, Onwubere 0, Carey 0.
Blackwater 83 – Erram 20, Cortez 14, Digregorio 9, Belo 9, Maliksi 9, Jose 7, Sumang 5, Marcelo 4, Sena 4, Pinto 2, Cruz 0.
Quarterscores: 15-16, 36-43, 65-57, 92-83.