ANTIPOLO – TNT KaTropa proved it can still thrive with a perimeter-oriented import as it held off Star, 104-99, to solidify its bid for a Top Four finish in the eliminations of the PBA Governors’ Cup on Sunday night at the Ynares Center.
Facing a Hotshots side that veered away from a wing reinforcement, the Texters turned to their own version in Glen Rice Jr. down the stretch to register their seventh win in 10 games to gain a share of third spot with NLEX.
Rice scored the team’s last six points that quelled a late stand by the Hotshots, dealing their victims their fourth loss in nine games.
The Hotshots, who replaced Malcolm Hill for Kristofer Acox, are still assured of a playoff berth thanks to Blackwater’s win over Globalport’s in the day’s first game.
“So long as it works for us, we’ll stick with it,” TNT coach Nash Racela said, referring to turning to a perimeter-oriented import. “As long as the locals will do their part, any kind of import you put in should work.”
“I think it also benefitted us that they changed imports this time of the conference,” he added. “I think that’s one of the reasons why they started slow.”
The Texters took advantage of the Hotshots’ adjustment with Acox, maintaining an early lead that grew to as many as 17 points late in the third quarter.
Jayson Castro, Roger Pogoy, and Troy Rosario all delivered in their own way and ably supported Rice throughout that stretch.
The Hotshots found their groove in the payoff period as they banked on run that saw them pull to within two points, 96-98, following a Jio Jalalon jumper.
But that’s when Rice took over, retaliating with back-to-back baskets – a stab and a floater, before countering a Paul Lee triple with two charities to seal the deal.
Acox fared well in his debut with 18 points and the same number of rebounds, while Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang delivered for the Hotshots’ locals in a losing effort.
TNT 104 – Rice Jr. 43, Castro 12, Pogoy 12, Rosario 12, Williams 8, Semerad 7, Reyes 6, Tautuaa 4, Lingganay 0, Carey 0
STAR 99 – Acox 18, Lee 17, Sangalang 17, Jalalon 13, Ramos 11, Pingris 8, Reavis 6, Dela Rosa 4, Barroca 3, Melton 2, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0
Quarterscores: 27-22, 51-45, 89-75, 104-99