TNT wasted an early 21-point lead but did just enough in the endgame to hold off NLEX, 117-106, in the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Sunday at Mall of Asia Arena.
The win moved the KaTropa closer to clinching a spot in the quarterfinals with their 6-1 card, joining Rain or Shine at the top of the standings and stretching their win streak to three.
Burly reinforcement Joshua Smith was just too much to handle for the Road Warriors, pouring 24 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, and two blocks to lead the KaTropa.
Anthony Semerad’s 22 points on an efficient 8-of-13 shooting was also a pleasant surprise for coach Nash Racela, blending in well with the 19 points and eight assists from Terrence Romeo.
“We just tried doing a lot of combinations today,” Racela admitted. “Jayson (Castro) and Terrence playing together, Tony Semerad playing the four because we feel that's something we will be needing in the future.”
Castro thrived in Racela’s experiment, doing the dirty work with his 10 points, seven assists, and six rebounds, as Jericho Cruz and Roger Pogoy combined for 23.
TNT was scorching hot off the gates, zooming to a 45-30 lead after the first quarter and extended the lead to 51-30 with a pair of Romeo free throws early in the second period.
Arnett Moultrie willed NLEX back in the game and the Road Warriors even held a one-point lead, 80-79 late in the third frame before the TNT ended the canto on a 10-2 assault to regain control for good.
Moultrie saw his 31 points and 14 rebounds go down the drain as the Road Warriors fell to 2-5.
Alex Mallari also added 15 points, six assists, and three boards, while Larry Fonacier got 14 as NLEX played its second game without super rookie Kiefer Ravena.
TNT 117 — Smith 24, Semerad 22, Romeo 19, Cruz 12, Pogoy 11, Castro 10, Rosario 6, Williams 5, Golla 3, Trollano 3, Garcia 2, Carey 0, Paredes 0, Reyes 0
NLEX 106 — Moultrie 31, Mallari 15, Fonacier 14, Ighalo 11, Quiñahan 9, Tiongson 7, Taulava 6, Miranda 4, Marcelo 3, Baguio 2, Rios 2, Soyud 2, Monfort 0, Uyloan 0
Quarterscores: 45-30, 63-56, 89-82, 117-106