PBA: TNT survives NorthPort for 4th win in a row

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 29 2022 05:19 PM | Updated as of Jun 29 2022 05:53 PM

 TNT guard Jayson Castro goes for a layup against the NorthPort Batang Pier in their 2022 PBA Philippine Cup game. PBA Images
TNT guard Jayson Castro goes for a layup against the NorthPort Batang Pier in their 2022 PBA Philippine Cup game. PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines -- (UPDATED) The TNT Tropang GIGA stretched their winning streak to four games after escaping with a 117-112 triumph against the NorthPort Batang Pier, Wednesday afternoon at the Araneta Coliseum.

A blistering 15-2 run bridging the third and fourth quarters gave TNT a double-digit lead, but had to weather a late flurry led by NorthPort guard Roi Sumang. 

The win hiked TNT's record to 6-2 and virtually assured them of a spot in the quarterfinals of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup. NorthPort, meanwhile, dropped a fourth consecutive game; at 2-4, they are clinging to the eight spot in the league standings.

"Obviously, our objective was to get as many wins as possible before we play the giants at the end of our schedule," said TNT coach Chot Reyes, whose team still has San Miguel and Barangay Ginebra in its schedule.

"But more important to us is to get better and develop our game… I thought there was a lot to be desired from our defense [today]," he added.

Jayson Castro was the hero for TNT, as the veteran sparked their third-quarter run then hit the dagger triple with 34 seconds left that snuffed NorthPort's comeback. "The Blur" finished with 17 points, eight assists, and six rebounds in 30 minutes.

Mikey Williams continued his explosive scoring, netting 27 points on 8-of-15 shooting along with seven boards. Roger Pogoy earned Player of the Game honors after contributing 22 points, and Poy Erram had a double-double of 17 points and 14 rebounds.

A Castro layup with 1:31 left in the third quarter touched off the most crucial run of the game, as TNT out-scored NorthPort 11-2 in the closing stretch of the period before scoring the first four points of the final quarter.

That gave the Tropang GIGA an 89-78 lead with 11 minutes left, and the Batang Pier spent the rest of the game trying to catch up.

A clutch three-pointer by Sumang with 52.2 seconds left made it a one-point game, 111-110, after TNT failed to inbound the ball properly and Kelly Williams saw his pass stolen. But the Tropang GIGA was ready to respond, as Castro calmly knocked down a three-pointer of his own off a crosscourt pass by Pogoy.

The Batang Pier would not recover, as free throws by Pogoy and Castro iced the game. 

NorthPort got 27 points from sophomore big man Jamie Malonzo, but suffered a blow early when Robert Bolick twisted his right ankle just seven minutes into the game. He returned late in the third quarter but was ineffective, and wound up playing just nine minutes in the contest.

Sumang picked up the cudgels after Bolick's exit and finished with 24 points and 10 assists in 37 minutes, while Kevin Ferrer added 14 points. 

The Batang Pier couldn't pull off the win despite scoring 28 points off TNT's 19 turnovers, as the Tropang GIGA's hot shooting from long range made the difference.

The Scores:

TNT 117 – M.Williams 27, Pogoy 22, Castro 17, Erram 17, Alejandro 12, Khobuntin 9, Heruela 7, K.Williams 2, Marcelo 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Banal 0, Cruz 0

NORTHPORT 112 – Malonzo 27, Sumang 24, Calma 16, Ferrer 14, Balanza 10, Ayaay 7, Santos 6, Bolick 5, Dela Cruz 1, Taha 0

QUARTERS: 26-30, 55-55, 85-78, 117-112