ANTIPOLO – Michael Craig Jr. wasted no time in walking the talk as he steered TNT KaTropa to a 106-96 victory over Kia in its PBA Governors’ Cup debut on Friday night at the Ynares Center.
Involved in a word war from the sidelines with San Miguel Beer at one point in the Commissioner’s Cup Finals, the Texters import let his game do the talking this time as he posted a triple-double in his debut with 21 points, 13 boards, and 12 assists that negated his nine turnovers.
Gilas standouts Troy Rosario and Jayson Castro led the local attack of the Texters, who kept the Picanto winless after three starts.
“To be honest, we really didn’t know what to expect going to the game today,” TNT coach Nash Racela said as his team didn’t have any tune-up games in the preseason. “We prioritized rest after playing in the finals. I know it’s not enough.”
“But it’s good that we’re seeing positive things,” he added. “The earlier to we learn to play with each other, the better for us.”
Fortunately, the Texters found the right import in Craig, a hefty utility man that flashed deceiving quickness in putting numbers across the board, completing his all-around play with three blocks and one steal in almost 39 minutes of play.
Rosario registered 18 points, 10 boards, and two assists in 32 minutes, while Castro added 16 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block in just 22 minutes less than a day after taking part in national team practice.
Levi Hernandez also made the most of his rare playing time as he scored all his eight points in the second quarter in a little over seven minutes of play, while Mo Tautuaa chipped in with some crucial baskets in the face of a Kia rally in the final frame.
Markeith Cummings led the Picanto with 27 points, the last two on a layup off his own steal from Craig that nudged his team to within five points, 91-96, with three minutes and 40 seconds left, although that was the closest they got.
TNT 106 – Craig 21, Rosario 18, Castro 16, Williams 11, Hernandez 8, Pogoy 8, Semerad 7, Tautuaa 7, De Ocampo 6, Carey 4, Garcia 0, Seigle 0, Tamsi 0
KIA 96 – Cummings 27, Celda 14, Revilla 8, Salva 8, Paniamogan 8, Corpuz 5, Elorde 5, Khobuntin 4, Galanza 4, Camson 4, Jaime 3, Nimes 3, Deutchman 3, Yee 0
QUARTERSCORES: 25-21, 53-44, 79-71, 106-96