TNT found its rhythm from deep for the third straight game as it downed Phoenix 123-118 to stay unbeaten in the PBA Governors' Cup on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The KaTropa caught fire from long range in the second half and shot 13-for-16 during those 24 minutes to leave the Fuel Masters behind and sit alongside NLEX atop the standings once more with a 3-0 record.
After going 5-for-6 from that spot in the third quarter, TNT continued to fire away and rely on hot hands in the fourth, where the team nailed its first six triples. KJ McDaniels then took it coast-to-coast for a fastbreak slam to make it a 114-103 lead with 5:34 remaining.
Lapses on defense, however, allowed Phoenix to stay within striking distance in the final 34 seconds, 122-118, even if Rosario drained two more from downtown to stretch the KaTropa lead. Fortunately, TNT was able to come up with some stops to wrap it up.
"We cannot play like that against the other teams. Not good," said coach Bong Ravena after the game as TNT allowed Phoenix to shoot 53 percent from the field. "We're not gonna beat anyone like that in our coming games. We cannot afford that kind of defense."
Four players scored above 20 points for TNT, with McDaniels and Rosario both finishing with 32 points. McDaniels added eight rebounds, six assists, two steals and two blocks for a well-rounded line, while Rosario shot 11-for-14 from the field.
Roger Pogoy also tallied 22 points built around four threes, eight boards and six dimes, while Castro finished with 20 points, seven rebounds, four assists and three steals. TNT nailed eight of its 10 threes in the payoff period, with Rosario and Pogoy accounting for seven of those.
"Offensively we're there. We just have to be consistent on defense. We cannot give away 118 points a game. At least less than 100. Over 100, we're not gonna beat anyone," added Ravena. "Of course our basis is San Miguel. We can't play that kind of defense or else they'll blow us out.
Matthew Wright scored 30 points on 12-for-18 shooting to go along with six assists and five rebounds for Phoenix, which was unable to follow up a thrilling win on Ginebra last weekend. Eugene Phelps put up 29 points and 11 boards as the Fuel Masters slipped to 1-3.
"Simple breakdown defensively. You can't beat that," Fuel Masters coach Louie Alas lamented after the game. "But the fact is we could have stopped those. We need to stay focused defensively, more focus."
"They executed well but we could have stopped those. We're probably a fraction of second late when communicating," he added. "We don't have a problem offensively. We just had a lot of breakdowns on defense. Those are things within our control and yet we couldn't control them. We're very, very young in terms of defense."
TNT KATROPA 123 - McDaniels 32, Rosario 32, Pogoy 22, Castro 20, Trollano 13, De Leon 2, Vosotros 2, Carey 0, Magat 0, Semerad 0, Washington 0.
PHOENIX PULSE 118 - Wright 30, Phelps 29, Perkins 18, Jazul 15, Mallari 9, Garcia 6, Kramer 4, Marcelo 3, Napoles 2, Chua 2, Dennison 0, Potts 0.
Quarters: 32-23; 61-57; 94-91; 123-118.
TNT finished a sterling 18-for-30 (60 percent) from the three-point line in the win.
The KaTropa shot more than 14 threes for the third straight game.
TNT vs. Columbian on Oct. 5 at the Ynares Center-Antipolo.
Phoenix vs. Meralco on Oct 6. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.