TNT KaTropa turned to a balanced effort on both ends as it held off Meralco, 113-107, to get back on the winning track in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Jayson Castro seems to have found his second wind after a grueling campaign for country and club as he conspired with Glen Rice Jr. on offense, while TNT big men took turns in defending reigning Best Import Allen Durham as the Texters dealt their sister team only its second loss in seven games.
Castro registered 27 points in 33 minutes as the Texters atoned for a 119-112 loss to GlobalPort last week to win for the third time in four games and fifth overall.
Durham still scattered 39 points and collected 24 rebounds, yet TNT coach Nash Racela still lauded his big men, particularly Kelly Williams, Mo Tautuaa, and Ranidel de Ocampo, for their defensive effort.
“We were playing against probably the best import in the conference,” Racela said. “Our players were up to the challenge today: Kelly, Mo, I think Ranidel for a while, so it took us a team effort to be able to at least make it hard it hard for him.”
Williams mainly had the unenviable task to shadow Durham, making him bleed for his points in stretches, while still contributing on offense with 16 points, 13 boards, one steal, and zero turnover in almost 29 minutes.
Tautuaa played less than 14 minutes, but fouled out early in the fourth quarter in a testament to the physicality and defense on Durham.
On offense, Rice continued to prove that a perimeter-oriented import can be a fit for the Texters as he put up 32 points, although on 30 attempts, 11 boards, three assists, and two blocks, against three turnovers in almost 45 minutes.
Baser Amer led the Bolts’ locals with 21 points on 9-of-16 shooting, five boards, and four assists, while three more teammates contributed at least eight points.
Chris Newsome added just six points, although he also had eight boards and five assists, and scored on the two free throws that pulled the Bolts closest at 107-105 with a minute and 42 seconds left before Rice and Castro retaliated with a jumper and two charities, respectively, to seal the deal.
TNT 113 – Rice Jr. 32, Castro 27, Williams 16, Pogoy 11, Rosario 7, De Ocampo 6, Semerad 5, Reyes 5, Tautuaa 4, Seigle 0
MERALCO 107 – Durham 39, Amer 21, Tolomia 9, Lanete 9, Dillinger 8, Hugnatan 7, Newsome 6, Hodge 4, Caram 4, Nabong 0
Quarterscores: 29-17, 63-46, 89-84, 113-107