A TNT KaTropa side that’s near full strength added to the frustrations of Phoenix, hammering out a 110-103 decision to get back to its winning ways in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Friday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The Texters drew an improved performance from Glen Rice Jr. and gained a major boost with the return of Gilas Pilipinas standouts Jayson Castro and Roger Pogoy, with Troy Rosario the only one missing as he’s still with the Gilas cadets in the Southeast Asian Games.
After putting up just 19 points on 6-of-22 shooting in his debut last Sunday, Rice registered 38 points on 14-of-24 shooting in 40 minutes, while Castro and Pogoy heated up in the second half as the Texters' balanced effort trumped the one-man show of stand-in Phoenix import Brandon Brown, who went a point shy of breaching the 50-point barrier.
As a result, the Texters improved to a 3-2 win-loss card and handed the Fuel Masters a franchise-worst sixth straight loss after their victims started the conference with two wins.
“We went to this game with the hope of Glen playing better than the first game, and today he did,” TNT coach Nash Racela said.
“Plus the addition of our Gilas players, we were not really sure about Jayson but when jayson gave me a signal to he’s okay, then we gambled on using him," he added.
After all, Castro, nursing a bruised knee he sustained in the last few minutes of Gilas’ last game in the Fiba Asia Cup against Jordan, still suited up and scored all his 11 points in the last two quarters.
Pogoy, who contributed just two points in the first two quarters, also scored the same output as Castro in the second half, none bigger than the stab off a drop pass from Ranidel de Ocampo late in the Texters’ shot clock that gave them a 107-101 lead with one minute and 46 seconds and proved to seal the deal.
Brown produced his 49 points after making 18 of his 27 shots in less than a minute of rest, but Eugune Phelps’ temporary replacement committed some questionable late decisions that hastened the Fuel Masters downfall.
TNT 110 – Rice Jr. 38, Williams 18, De Ocampo 14, Pogoy 13, Castro 11, Tautuaa 7, Semerad 7, Lingganay 2, Reyes 0, Carey 0, Hernandez 0
PHOENIX 103 – Brown 49, Eriobu 12, Wright 11, Intal 10, Jazul 8, Chan 5, Alolino 4, Kramer 2, J. Wilson 2, Dehesa 0
Quarterscores: 25-23, 46-49, 86-79, 110-103