OFFENSE trumped defense as TNT KaTropa overpowered Meralco, 102-84, to take Game One of their PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal series on Monday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Texters, who entered the playoffs with the second-best offense in the tournament at 105.3 points, found holes in the defense of a Bolts side that owned the best defense with just 89.2 points allowed, to draw first blood in their best-of-three series.
Jayson Castro led the balanced effort and ignited a breakaway in the payoff period as the Texters coasted to the victory over their sister squad, dealing their victims their fourth straight loss dating back to the eliminations.
The Texters moved one win away from advancing to the semifinals opposite the survivor of the pairing between twice-to-beat Ginebra and GlobalPort.
“I think offensively, we were just blessed to have contributions from almost everybody,” TNT coach Nash Racela said. “It doesn’t normally happen, but at least today, it really helped us. Defensively, it was very decent today. We made it hard to Meralco to make their shots.”
“But we’re expecting them to make adjustments,” he added after his team built a lead that ballooned to 24 points late in the fourth quarter.
TNT can close out the series in Game Two on Wednesday night also at the Big Dome.
Castro scored nine of his game-high 25 points in the final frame and completed an all-around effort with seven assists, seven boards, three steals, and two blocks in 29 minutes as the Texters prevailed even with import Joshua Smith coming off the bench.
The burly Smith still maximized his 18 minutes on the court as he finished with 19 points on 8-of-9 shooting, three rebounds, three assists, one steal, and one block.
Mo Tautaa added all his 13 points in the first three quarters, while Kelly Williams stepped up as a starter on short notice, scoring all but two of his 10 points in the first quarter
Chris Newsome led the Bolts with 21 points, four assists, and three caroms in 39 minutes as import Alex Stepheson was held to just nine points on 11 attempts and 16 boards after coming into the game averaging 17 points and tournament-leading 20.9 rebounds.
TNT 102 – Castro 25, Smith 19, Tautuaa 13, Rosario 9, Garcia 9, Reyes 6, Semerad 5, Pogoy 4, Nuyles 2, De Ocampo 0, Rosales 0, Golla 0, Carey 0
MERALCO 84 – Newsome 21, Amer 14, Dillinger 12, Hugnatan 11, Yeo 10, Stepheson 9, Caram 3, Hodge 2, Uyloan 2, Faundo 0, Nabong 0, Bono 0
Quarterscores: 25-13, 42-27, 69-59, 102-84