ANTIPOLO – TNT KaTropa started a relatively new era on a positive note as it held off NLEX, 112-107, to solidify its playoff chances in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday night at the Ynares Center.
A few days after trading longtime stalwart Ranidel de Ocampo, the Texters showed they still had plenty of weapons in the arsenal as they overcame a tough challenge by the resurgent Road Warriors.
Glen Rice Jr. flashed his NBA pedigree as he scattered a triple-double of 25 points, 15 boards, and 10 assists on top of five blocks that negated his nine turnovers, while Jayson Castro knocked down the dagger triple for the Texters, who jacked up their win-loss record to 6-3.
The Texters also handed the Road Warriors only their third loss in 10 games, leaving Ginebra alone atop the 12-team standings.
By beating the Road Warriors, the Texters also completed a sweep of their sister teams in the eliminations this conference as they were coming off a win over Meralco last Wednesday.
“The last few days were really tough for us,” TNT coach Nash Racela said, referring to the departure of De Ocampo. “We should just accept right away the change and move forward right away.”
Kelly Williams stepped up in the absence of De Ocampo, tallying 19 points, eight boards, two assists, and two steals, while Troy Rosario, groomed to the take the place of RDO as a premier stretch forward, added 17 points, 12 rebounds, one steal, and one block.
But it was Castro who brought the Texters home, draining the triple that gave his team a two-possession 110-106 lead, that capped of his performance of 13 points, seven assists, five boards, and two steals in 30 minutes.
Aaron Fuller led the Road Warriors with 28 points and 18 caroms, scoring on the first of back-to-back NLEX baskets off Kevin Alas assists that pulled the Road Warriors to within a solitary point, 106-107, which, however set the stage for Castro’s heartbreaking triple on the other end.
Former TNT gunner Larry Fonacier chipped in 10 points, three boards, two assists, and one steal in 24 minutes off the bench for the Road Warriors in his first game against his former team.
TNT 112 – Rice Jr. 25, Williams 19, Rosario 17, Castro 13, Tautuaa 12, Semerad 10, Reyes 8, Pogoy 6, Carey 2, Nuyles 0
NLEX 107 – Fuller 28, Mallari 19, Fonacier 10, Alas 9, Baguio 7, Lastimosa 7, Al-Hussaini 6, Tiongson 5, Soyud 5, Quinahan 5, Rios 2, Ighalo 2, Taulava 2, J. Villanueva 0
Quarterscores: 25-20, 50-46, 83-77, 112-107.