TNT Katropa aced its biggest test yet as it pummeled San Miguel Beer, 105-85, on Saturday night at the Batangas City Coliseum to clinch a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
The Texters broke loose from a tight game in the third quarter on the way to the blowout victory against the defending champion Beermen, who even got an upgrade with Asian import Mahmoud Abdeen making his debut in the Petron Saturday Special.
Ranidel de Ocampo showed the way offensively, while Jayson Castro ran the show with aplomb as the two stars conspired anew to lead the Texters, who won for the eighth time in nine games to strengthen their grip on the top spot.
The Texters also handed the Beermen just their third loss in nine games as the defending champs slid to third spot in a tie with Mahindra.
After scoring the game-winner against GlobalPort last Wednesday, De Ocampo scored 18 points against the Beermen to lead seven Texters who scored at least seven points each.
Castro added 16 points and 13 assists, including three straight, the last to Troy Rosario’s top-of-the key three-pointer that gave the Texters their biggest lead at 99-70 halfway through the payoff period after they entered the second half up by just two points.
Even earlier in the final frame, the Beermen already looked headed for a long night as an ominous sign saw Marcio Lassiter, setting up a play on top of the key, passed the ball to coach Leo Austria on the sidelines, out of bounds with this team down by 21 points.
June Mar Fajardo led SMB with 20 points and 13 boards, while main import Mike Singletary added 18 and 7 as Abdeen, expected to facilitate the offense, ended up as a gunner with nine points off three triples.
TNT KATROPA 105 - De Ocampo 18, Castro 16, Madanly 15, Rosario 13, Ammons 11, Fonacier 9, Reyes R. 8, Williams 5, Carey 4, Tautuaa 3, Rosser 2, Rosales 1, Ababou 0, Nuyles 0.
SAN MIGUEL 85 - Fajardo 20, Singletary 18, Cabagnot 17, Santos 10, Abdeen 9, Tubid 7, Espinas 2, Lassiter 2, Arana 0, David 0, De Ocampo 0, Ross 0.
Quarters: 28-20, 47-45, 80-64, 105-85