MANILA, Philippines – The TNT KaTropa kept their winning streak alive by fending off the Mahindra Floodbuster, 86-84, in their 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup showdown on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The KaTropa leaned on their defense to fuel their offense in a crucial 5-0 blast that broke a 78-all count and put them in control, 83-78, with just 3:21 left in the game.
The Floodbuster came to within two points, 81-83, after a floater by LA Revilla and a split at the line by Alex Mallari. They missed a chance to take the lead when Jason Deutchmann misfired on a three-pointer with 16.5 seconds to go, but TNT could not ice the win just yet as Roger Pogoy made only one of two free throws with 12 seconds left.
Mahindra, however, could not take advantage as Mallari opted to drive to the lane in their next possession, only to have his shot bothered by TNT import Donte Greene. Greene then sealed the deal with two charities, and the final three-pointer of Mahindra import Keith Wright came too late to affect the final outcome.
TNT came away with their fourth consecutive victory, putting their record at 4-1 for a share of fourth place along with the Alaska Aces.
"At least today, it wasn't a come-from-behind win," said TNT head coach Nash Racela after the contest. "I think we were leading all the way. During the halftime, I was telling the team that this is the time to build and develop good habits."
"Obviously, today we were not able to do that. We made a lot of mistakes pa rin. It's just good that we're getting wins despite playing that way," he added.
Greene finished with 24 points and 14 rebounds, though he struggled with his shot and made only eight of 24 attempts. Troy Rosario added 11 points, and Castro scored 10 markers.
TNT was in control for most of the game, though the Floodbuster did just enough to stay within striking distance. Mahinda finally took the lead midway through the fourth quarter, when Revilla scored five straight points to push the Floodbuster on top, 77-75.
Ranidel de Ocampo quickly regained the lead for TNT, splashing a corner triple with 6:29 left for a 78-77 lead. Wright would then make one of two free throws to tie the game for the last time with 6:10 to go.
That was when the KaTropa took control. Greene soundly rejected Revilla's jump shot at the five-minute mark, and his defensive gem led to De Ocampo's transition bucket courtesy of a Castro assist. TNT forced Mahindra to take ill-advised jumpers in their next three possessions, and then pounced in transition.
A fastbreak lay-up by Pogoy made it 83-78 with 3:21 to go. Though Mahindra tried to rally, TNT was able to make the defensive stops in the end game to seal their fourth straight win.
"If you follow Mahindra, they always give their opponents a hard time," said Racela. "Palaging close game, and a lot of times, they always have a chance to steal the game in the end. That just speaks volumes of how Coach Chris (Gavina) has been doing a great job sa team niya."
Wright had 26 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Floodbuster, while Revilla added 20 markers. Mallari had a double-double as well, with 17 points and 11 boards.
Neither team shot well from the field, with Mahindra going 31-for-82 and TNT making 31 of 81 attempts. However, the KaTropa were able to somewhat make up for it by making 10 three-pointers, while the Floodbuster knocked down only four triples.
Mahindra further hampered its cause by missing 10 of its 28 free throw attempts.
The loss dropped the Floodbuster to 1-5. It was their third consecutive loss in the conference.
TNT 86 - Greene 24, Rosario 11, Castro 10, Tautuaa 9, Rosales 8, Pogoy 6, Fonacier 5, De Ocampo 5, Williams 4, Reyes 3, Carey 1, Tamsi 0.
MAHINDRA 84 - Wright 26, Revilla 20, Mallari 17, Elorde 6, Salva 5, Paniamogan 4, Deutchman 3, Caperal 2, Yee 1, Ballesteros 0, Corpuz 0, Celda 0, Guevarra 0, Galanza 0.
Quarters: 18-17, 47-38, 65-62, 86-84.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.