Glen Rice Jr sizzles in the third as TNT detonates on Ginebra to clinch Top Four berth
Glen Rice Jr. explodes to the hoop. Jerome Ascano

TNT KaTropa showed its readiness for the playoffs as it frustrated Barangay Ginebra, 121-92, to become the first team to clinch a Top Four berth in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Saturday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Texters caught fire from long distance that negated the Gin Kings’ height advantage, pulling away in the second half to turn an expected dogfight into a cakewalk and book a twice-to-beat incentive in the quarterfinals.

Glen Rice Jr. and Jayson Castro typified their hot shooting, knocking down six treys apiece to lead the Texters in tying their victims with an 8-3 win-loss record.

The loss meant the erstwhile pacesetting Gin Kings can still drop to as low as fifth spot depending on the results of the last day of the regular season on Sunday.

“We’ve always talked about everybody pitching in for us to be successful,” TNT coach Nash Racela said. “I think today players were focused on the task and they were all ready to contribute.”

“It really helped us that we shot really well,” he added. “If you shoot that way, you really have a good chance.”

Rice fired a game-high 36 points, nine boards, and four steals, scoring half of his output in the third quarter where the Texters outscored the Gin Kings, 31-22, to spark the breakaway.

The Texters kept it pouring in the final frame where Castro took over and scored 11 of his 28 points as The Blur shot 11-of-13 from the field overall and added seven assists, four boards, one steal, and one block in 30 minutes.

Troy Rosario added three triples, while Roger Pogoy added one trey for the Texters, who shot 17 three-pointers as a unit.Even seldom-used big man Frank Golla joined the three-point shooting party, burying a triple that  gave the Texters their biggest lead at 115-83 with three minutes to go.

Justin Brownlee was one of the few bright spots for the Gin Kings, wounding up with 28 points, 14 boards, four assists, and three steals for the losing team, whose 29-point defeat matched their worst loss under coach Tim Cone.


The scores:

TNT 121 – Rice Jr. 36, Castro 28, Rosario 15, Pogoy 15, Williams 10, Semerad 4, Chua 4, Golla 3, Carey 2, Tautuaa 2, Seigle 2, Nuyles 0, Hernandez 0, Reyes 0, Lingganay 0

GINEBRA 92 – Bronwlee 28, Aguilar J. 19, Thompson 9, Devance 7, Tenorio 6, Mercado 6, Slaughter 4, Caguioa 4, Aguilar R. 4, Ferrer 3, Cruz 2, Mariano 0, Taha 0

Quarterscores: 30-31, 57-49, 88-71, 121-92

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