IT seems coach Tim Cone will have to dig deeper into his bag of tricks to figure out how to stop Joshua Smith.
The hefty TNT KaTropa import frolicked in the paint again before Jayson Castro brought them home against Barangay Ginebra as the Texters hacked out a 100-94 victory to gain the headstart in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series on Sunday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Smith came off the bench and scattered 35 points, 13 boards, four assists, and two steals in just 28 minutes, before Castro knocked down the dagger triple – his only field goal conversion of the game – as the Texters survived a Gin Kings’ rally to hold on to the win.
“We’re looking forward to adjustments in the second game. It was a tough game (tonight),” TNT coach Nash Racela said.
Game Two is on Tuesday night also at the MOA Arena.
Roger Pogoy led TNT locals with 17 points as the rookie sensation proved to be the tinder of the Texters’ hot start by firing 10 of his output in the first quarter, including the Texters’ first seven points that were unanswered to start the game.
it was the 6-foot-9, 330-pound Smith, though, who sustained the push and kept the Gin Kings at bay, dropping 29 markers in the second half and going 16-of-22 from the field overall.
“If you’ll give him the minutes, he’ll give you the numbers,” Racela said.
The Castro put on the finishing touches.
After missing his first nine shots and scoring his first point from the foul line with three minutes and nine seconds left in the game, The Blur came through when it mattered most by draining the triple from top of the key with 14 seconds left that took the fight out of the Gin Kings.
The Gin Kings had rallied from a 15-point deficit, pulling to within two points several times, the last at 92-90 after a layup by Scottie Thompson with 2:50 to go, but Pogoy answered with a triple that gave the Texters a two-possession lead.
Justin Brownlee led the Gin Kings with 24 points, 14 boards, six assists, and two steals without committing single turnover in 43 minutes that went for naught.
TNT 100 – Smith 35, Pogoy 17, De Ocampo 12, Garcia 8, Rosario 6, Semerad 6, Williams 5, Castro 4, Rosales 4, Reyes 2, Carey 0
GINEBRA 94 – Brownlee 24, Tenorio 15, Aguilar 15, Devance 10, Ferrer 10, Mercado 7, Thompson 7, Marcelo 4, Ellis 2, Caguioa 0
Quarterscores: 23-13, 45-37, 73-66, 100-94