TNT KaTropa turned to its two building blocks before leaning on its longtime foundation to turn back Alaska, 106-98, and grab its first win in the PBA Philippine Cup before the league heads to a New Year break.
Mo Tautuaa and Troy Rosario showed why they are the top two picks in the 2015 rookie draft, flashing their outside shooting by combining for seven triples in the first half before Jayson Castro took over down the stretch for the Texters.
As a result, the Texters registered their first win after starting the season with a loss while handing the Aces’ second straight loss.
“That’s what we need from our players – efficiency,” TNT coach Nash Racela said. “We conditioned their minds that they’re gonna get shorter minutes, but with the minutes we entrust them, they’ll be able to perform at a high level. Mo was a perfect example.”
After all, Tautuaa, the No. 1 pick in 2015, tallied 18 points on 8-of-12 shooting, making his two three-point attempts, on top of grabbing eight rebounds, one assist, and one block in less than 24 minutes off the bench.
Rosario, who has overshadowed Tautuaa a bit so far despite in their careers despite coming next to him in their draft class, sustained his solid play as he finished with 19 points built around five treys, along with eight boards, and one assist in 33 minutes.
Castro then brought the Texters home by scoring 13 of his 20 points in the second half and adding six boards, five assists, and three steals in 30 minutes.
The Texters finally found their marks after firing blanks in their 82-79 loss to Rain or Shine last Friday when they shot a paltry 30.7 percent from the field.
“It’s always hard to get the first win especially our next game would be San Miguel, so it’s nice to get the win before the new Year ends,” Racela said.
The result spoiled an impressive performance from Alaska rookie Jeron Teng, who scattered 28 points, 10 boards, five assists, four steals, and one block, without committing a single turnover in 30 minutes as a starter.
TNT 106 – Castro 20, Rosario 19, Tautuaa 18, Garcia 11, Pogoy 9, Williams 9, Reyes 6, Torres 6, Onwubere 4, Tallo 2, Arong 2, Carey 0, Golla 0
ALASKA 98 – Teng 28, Casio 17, Abueva 16, Magat 9, Thoss 6, Galliguez 5, Pascual 5, Banchero 4, Cruz 4, Manuel 2, Racal 2, Exciminiano 0
Quarterscores: 29-30, 56-49, 81-72, 106-98