TNT KaTropa turned to its other old reliables as it survived GlobalPort, 95-90, on Monday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to advance to the semifinals of the PBA Philippine Cup.
With Jayson Castro shackled, Ranidel de Ocampo and Kelly Williams came through down the stretch as the Texters averted a collapse after seeing their early 20-point lead disappear.
By completing a sweep of the Batang Pier in their best-of-three quarterfinal series, the Texters earned the right to face top seed San Miguel in a best-of-seven semifinal series starting with Game One on Wednesday, also at the Big Dome.
With the Texters also zeroing in on the backcourt tandem of Terrence Romeo and Stanley Pringle, JR Quinahan stepped up for the Batang Pier only for his effort to go for naught.
“It was really tough for us to defend all angles,” TNT coach Nash Racela said. “We tried our best defending Pringle and Romeo, but we gave up a lot of baskets to the other guys, especially Quinahan.”
“Good thing, our veterans stepped up today – Jayson, Ranidel, and Kelly,” he added. “It’s the key for us.”
The 35-year-old De Ocampo showed he still has it, finishing with a game-high 25 points on 7-of-10 shooting, including four straight in one stretch where the Texters needed it most – two free throws that put them up for good at 89-87, then a floater that beat the shot-clock buzzer for a four-point lead.
Quinahan, who scored 17 points in the second half, retaliated with a three-point play that kept the Batang Pier in it, before Williams converted on a left-handed putback stab that gave the Texters a three-point lead.
After Romeo fumbled the leather on the way to committing a turnover on the other end, De Ocampo sealed the deal with two charities, standing tallest with Castro limited to just nine points on 13 attempts although he contributed eight assists, four boards, and three steals, in 32 minutes off the bench.
Romeo still registered a team-high 22 points, but he had to take 23 attempts to reach his total in 44 minutes, while Pringle shot better, making eight of his 12 attempts and his one charity to finish with 19 markers in 40 minutes.
TNT 95 – De Ocampo 25, Tautuaa 14, Rosario 12, Fonacier 10, Williams 10, Castro 9, Rosales 8, Pogoy 5, Rosser 2, Reyes 0, Carey 0, Tamsi 0
GLOBALPORT 90 – Romeo 22, Pringle 19, Quinahan 17, Cortez 10, Canaleta 7, Semerad 7, Maierhofer 4, Mamaril 2, Paredes 2, Urbiztondo 0, Pessumal 0, Andrada 0, Pennisi 0
Quarterscores: 30-22, 48-41, 76-67, 95-90