The TNT KaTropa picked up a masterful 104-93 win against the San Miguel Beermen on Sunday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum to to even up their record at 2-2.
Jayson Castro took charge in the final quarter and made critical baskets for the KaTropa. TNT was down by as much as eight points in the third period after a steal and fast-break layup from Chris Ross. TNT called a timeout and responded with a 10-0 run to turn around the game.
It was still a close midway through the fourth quarter with the KaTropa holding a 93-87 lead when Castro took over. "The Blur" scored on a layup, assisted on a Kelly Williams 3-pointer, and then made three more buckets to edge TNT to a 104-89 lead with 1:31 remaining.
The Beermen also did not help themselves by committing crucial turnovers in the end to allow TNT to pick up the victory.
Castro finished with 24 points, five rebounds, 11 assists, and four steals. He shared the Best Player of the Game honors with Troy Rosario, who finally made his 2019 Philippine Cup debut with 22 points on 6-of-12 shooting from 3-point range.
"I just want to thank my teammates for adjusting with me on the lineup," said Rosario. "It was team effort. We work hard on practice and it finally paid off in the game."
Castro, meanwhile, said that it was all about hitting their outside shots.
"We executed like we did in our last game, but this time we hit our open shots," the point guard added.
TNT shot 45 of their 92 attempts from the 3-point range as they looked to stretch the Beermen's defense. San Miguel shot better from the field (47 percent to 45 percent) but the KaTropa had 18 more shot attempts and out-rebounded the Beermen 48 to 44 (with a 15 to 7 advantage on the offensive glass). TNT also took care of the ball with only nine turnovers while the Beermen had 17.
After Castro and Rosario, Ryan Reyes was TNT's next leading scorer with 14 points.
It was a hotly contested first half of play between the rivals as they battled to a deadlock, 51-51, at the end of the first half. The Beermen were powered by Von Pessumal, who tied his career game high of 18 points in the first two quarters, while Standhardinger chipped in 14 points. For the TNT, it was Rosario who sparked their offense with 12 first-half points, all scored in the second period.
Standhardinger topped SMB with 24 points. Fajardo chipped in 22 while Ross and Marcio Lassiter had a combined 22 points, 15 rebounds, and 17 assists. Arwind Santos had a forgettable performance with only two points on 1-of-11 shooting from the field.
TNT 104 - Castro 24, Rosario 22, Reyes 14, Trollano 13, Williams 11, Pogoy 7, Heruela 5, Taha 4, Miranda 2, Carey 2, Golla 0, Semerad 0.
San Miguel 93 - Standhardinger 24, Pessumal 23, Fajardo 22, Ross 11, Lassiter 11, Santos 2, Tubid 0, Nabong 0, Zamar 0.
Quarters: 25-27, 51-51, 82-76, 104-93.
-- Terrence Romeo was supposed to face his former team for the first time since he got traded. However, due to the ankle sprain he suffered in their first game against Columbian, Romeo was held out.
-- It was Brian Heruela who got to perform against his former teammates at SMB, especially his collegiate teammate Fajardo. "It was sad because we've been teammates for a long time but we still talk often. That's just how basketball is," said Fajardo.
-- Rosario had to wear a protective mask in the game as his nose was broken in the offseason during a practice game against the NLEX Road Warriors.
-- A big reason for the SMB loss was that they did not get enough support from their bench. Paul Zamar and Ronald Tubid combined for 22 points against the Meralco Bolts but they failed to score against TNT.
TNT KaTropa vs Meralco Bolts on Jan. 30 at the Cuneta Astrodome
San Miguel Beer vs Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Feb. 1 at the Ynares Center, Antipolo