TNT took advantage of Rain or Shine import Joel Wright's benching in the fourth quarter to run away with a 103-91 win in the PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Elasto Painters, who were down 92-86 with 3:50 on the clock, lost Wright for three minutes down the stretch after the import was assessed a flagrant foul for tripping Troy Rosario, who in turn hit one from the line before burying a corner three to extend the KaTropa's lead to 10.
KJ McDaniels later scored four straight points underneath before Roger Pogoy piled on Rain or Shine's miseries by hitting a wide-open triple from the left wing to hike TNT's lead to 103-88 with less than a minute to go.
"We just continued to keep working hard, get as much wins as we can. We need to take advantage. The coming games will be more difficult," said head coach Bong Ravena. "Short-term goal is to win as many games as we can."
McDaniels followed up his 40-point debut by posting 37 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and five blocks for the KaTropa, who improved to 2-0 to sit alongside NLEX atop the standings early on. Rosario added 16 markers and nine boards, while Jayson Castro and Pogoy added 15 and 12, respectively.
"Last game I told him his scoring has to be consistent and the locals will just follow. What's important is [he's] steady offensively," Ravena said of McDaniels.
Wright still managed to top the Elasto Painters with 20 points, eight boards and three assists. Javee Mocon and James Yap backed him by chipping in 19 and 18 as Rain or Shine fell to 1-2 for the conference.
Rain or Shine coach Caloy Garcia rued his import's failure to stay on the floor and admitted that Wright was not on the right side of the incident.
"It was a good game until the last three minutes. I think the turning point was when our import got called for the unsportsmanlike foul, which was really an unsportsmanlike foul. He'll have to learn that in that situation, we needed him inside the game," he said. "He was wrong today. He lost it. I think he felt that he got hit in the face. But I told him it was accidental, basically you have to learn from that. Whatever league that you play in, you have to know what happened first before you can do that."
The import defended himself by saying he was first hit in the mouth by Rosario in the rebound battle before the flagrant foul.
"Before I got the ejection I got a whole hit in my face. He elbowed me in my mouth. That's dirty. You don't play like that," he insisted. "I saw a lot of dirty stuff going on but I guess it's where I'm at, I'm an import so I guess they gotta protect their players here. There [were] a lot of dirty plays that's going on and it gets annoying as you play the whole game."
On the other hand, Rosario denied Wright's accusations and said that he saw the import coming up with something from a mile away.
"It was probably the frustration from his side because before he did that, he was looking at me. I saw his frustration because he would have gotten the rebound if I wasn't able to tap it out," Rosario, who slightly hurt his elbow in the incident, said in Filipino. "It was clear that I went for the rebound. I didn't look to hit him. And I know that he wasn't even hit there."
Wright vowed to try to keep his cool better to better help Rain or Shine, which fell to 1-2 after the loss to the KaTropa, bounce back in the following weeks.
"I should be out there with my team helping my team. I shouldn't be on the bench in the last three minutes down six. That was definitely big time," Wright conceded.
"I mean there's no excuses. I just gotta play better," he added. "I just gotta play better. Thats all. Just gotta keep my composure more and I just gotta play better."
TNT (103) -- McDaniels 37, Rosario 16, Castro 15, Trollano 12, Pogoy 12, De Leon 8, Vosotros 3, Magat 0, Semerad D. 0, Washington 0.
Rain or Shine (91) -- Wright 20, Mocon 19, Yap 18, Daquioag 9, Rosales 5, Ponferada 5, Norwood 4, Exciminiano 4, Borboran 2, Belga 0.
Quarters: 27-21, 49-44, 81-72, 103-91.
- Wright never returned to the floor for Rain or Shine after getting sent to the bench. He has now accumulated 13 fouls in just three games.
- TNT buried 14 triples for the second straight game as they nailed 48.3 percent of their 29 shots against Rain or Shine.
TNT vs. Phoenix on October 2 at Smart Araneta Coliseum
Rain or Shine vs. Magnolia on October 4 at the Mall of Asia Arena