A SHORTHANDED Tropang TNT survived a scare from NLEX to hack out an 85-80 victory and pump life into its fading title-retention bid in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Philsports Arena.
The Texters put up a gallant stand in the absence of superstar Jayson Castro as well as injured gunner Larry Fonacier, but had to endure anxious moments down the stretch to pull off just their third win in seven games and tie the Road Warriors.
David Simon tallied 23 points, 16 boards, four blocks, and three steals as the TNT import led his team in erecting an early 27-point lead that proved enough to overcome a late rally by the sister squad.
Reserve guard Jai Reyes stepped in for Castro, scoring 11 for the Tropang Texters.
“We really needed this win to get over the hump,” Texters coach Jong Uichico said. “Hopefully we can get more wins.”
The Texters looked poised for a breakaway victory when they established a 27-point cushion early in the third quarter, but the Road Warriors fought back after being sluggish early on when they missed their first 10 shots and all but three of their first 18 attempts, and committed 10 turnovers.
The Road Warriors came to within three points, 81-78, after Sean Anthony made two charities, before Simon sealed the win with a three-point play conversion with a little over a minute left.
“Probably (we got complacent),” Uichico admitted. “But we just had to find a way.”
Al Thornton shouldered most of the NLEX load anew with 35 points in 44 minutes, but the prolific import found little help from the locals as only Garvo Lanete scored in twin digits.
TNT 85 – Simon 23, Carey 11, Reyes J. 11, De Ocampo 9, Rosser 9, Rosario 8, Ababou 6, Tautuaa 4, Williams 4, Reyes R. 0, Miranda 0
NLEX 80 – Thornton 35, Lanete 20, Anthony 7, Enciso 7, Villanueva E. 5, Alas 3, Taulava 3, Arboleda H. 0, Borboran 0, Khobuntin 0, Reyes 0, Villanueva J. 0
Quarterscores: 34-15, 54-35, 67-61, 85-80