TNT Katropa bursts Blackwater’s bubble in the PBA Philippine Cup Friday night behind a 99-92 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Jayson Castro shared scoring honors with Mo Tautuaa with 20 points in his first game with the Texters this season, leading the team to its second straight win for a tie with its victim at 2-1 (win-loss).
He added five rebounds and five assists as he finally suited up for the team after sitting out its first two outings to take a well-deserved rest from non-stop basketball over the past year.
Rookie Mac Belo again showed the way for the Elite with 21 points, including 15 in the second half, as he led a serious Blackwater rally that fell short in the end.
“Not the prettiest game for us, but this will serve as a learning experience for the guys,” said deputy coach Josh Reyes, who called the shots for the team anew pending the official takeover of head coach Nash Racela.
“It didn’t really start out the way we wanted to, we only adjusted when the coaches, especially coach Nash, really got mad at the players, and then they started doing the right things.”
The Texters came out flat and found themselves trailing early on, 30-21. They didn’t turn things around until the second period when Castro and Tautuaa combined for 14 points to take the upperhand at the break, 50-46.
They stretched the lead to its biggest at 88-75 late in the third period, before Blackwater came to back to life late in the game.
The Elite threatened at 94-89 and were within four in the final 26 seconds. But free throws by Ranidel de Ocampo coming home finally sealed the deal for the Texters.
“Throughout the game, we had a number of focus issues. We weren’t all that focused on the situation on the floor and we had mistakes we didn’t want happening,” stressed Reyes.
“Good thing it’s still early in the season and we had a lot time to work on those things to clean it up.”
De Ocampo scored 10 of his 15 points in the final quarter and added seven rebounds for the Texters, who clobbered the Elite off the boards, 52-43.
Kyle Pascual and Nard John Pinto each had 14 for Blackwater to compliment the rookie Belo, who also had nine rebounds.
TNT (99) -- Tautuaa 20, Castro 20, De Ocampo 15, Fonacier 11, Rosario 8, Rosser 8, Carey 5, Reyes 5, Williams 4, Pogoy 3, Hernandez 0, Rosales 0, Golla 0.
Blackwater (92) -Belo 21, K. Pascual 14, Pinto 14, Dela Cruz 12, Cervantes 10, Miranda 5, Ababou 4, Aguilar 4, Buenafe 4, Sena 4, Banal 0, R. Pascual 0, Forrester 0.
Quarterscores: 21-30; 50-46; 76-67; 99-92.