Tropang TNT tests Ricardo Ratliffe, falling Star as Texters rev up title-retention drive
Import David Simon had 33 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks, and three steals in the Tropang TNT's 108-96 win over Phoenix. Jerome Ascano

TROPANG TNT is focusing on things within its control as it revs up its title-retention drive in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup, squaring off against new-look Star on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Texters aim to put up their first winning streak of the midseason conference as they take on a Hotshots side that’s parading a replacement import in Ricardo Ratliffe during the main game of the doubleheader at 5:15 p.m.

More than worrying about how the Hotshots will jell with their new import, TNT coach Jong Uichico is concentrating on his team and the chemistry with own recruit David Simon.

“I’m more concerned now with the way we’re playing,” the champion coach said. “Can we improve, can we sustain? If we take care of ourselves first, we’ll go a longer ways in the next games to come.”

The Texters had been on a rare three-game tailspin, before a 108-96 victory over Phoenix last week got them back on track.

“You can’t say that one won game is pataas na (yung laro namin),” Uichico, whose team is in a five-team logjam in the middle with a 2-3 win-loss record, said. “But we should build something from it.”

Simon showed his entire repertoire the last time, scattering 33 points, 22 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks, and three steals in just 35 minutes against the Fuel Masters.

The 33-year-old American forward will match up with Ratliffe, who replaced a grieving Denzel Bowles and tries to lead the Hotshots, who have lost four of their five games, out of the cellar.

GlobalPort and Blackwater, two teams tied with TNT and coming off two straight losses, seek to stop the skid as they face off in the curtain-raiser at 3 o’clock.

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos