TNT Katropa validated its stature as the favorite as it overwhelmed Meralco, 113-95, to gain a head start in their PBA Governors’ Cup semifinal series on Tuesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Texters broke away from a tight game in the third quarter where they connected from all angles on the way to the blowout victory in Game One of the best-of-five series.
Mike Madanly pumped in 22 points built around four three-pointers to lead a balanced effort, while Jayson Castro turned into a facilitator as he dished out nine assists along with scoring just 14 points after exploding for 42 markers in their quarterfinal win over Phoenix.
“It’s good we won, but we haven’t accomplished anything yet,” TNT coach Jong Uichico insisted. “In the third (period), they just missed some shots and we were able to convert ours.”
Game Two is on Thursday also at the Big Dome.
Castro tried to pick up from where he left off in the first round of the playoffs, but the law of averages hit the Texters superstar as he missed all but one of his 11 shots in the first half, forcing him to defer to his teammates in the second half.
They didn’t disappoint as seven Texters ended up scoring at least eight points each, with Madanly leading the way after waxing hot in the third canto, where they outscored the Bolts, 39-24.
Troy Rosario picked up the slack early, scoring all his 16 points in the first three quarters, before Mychal Ammons took over as the TNT import finished with 15 points, including seven in the final frame, after going scoreless in the first period.
Ranidel de Ocampo was the other double-digit scorer for the Texters, whose lead ballooned to 24 points, 113-89, late in the fourth.
Allen Durham powered the Bolts with 26 points, 21 boards, seven assists, three blocks, and one steal, but found little help from the locals when he needed it most.
TNT 113 – Madanly 22, Rosario 16, Ammons 15, Castro 14, De Ocampo 12, Fonacier 9, Williams 8, Reyes 6, Rosales 6, Tautuaa 5, Ababou 0, Rosser 0
MERALCO 95 – Durham 26, Hodge 16, Dillinger 12, Alapag 8, Amer 8, Hugnatan 8, Faundo 6, Nabong 3, Newsome 3, Uyloan 3, Al-Hussaini 2, Buenafe 0, Guevarra 0
Quarterscores: 24-23, 45-43, 84-67, 113-95