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RR Pogoy hits career-high 45 points as Tropang Giga slip past Aces

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TNT downs Aces as the PBA returns (3:23)

RR Pogoy and Jayson Castro led the charge as the TNT Tropang GIGA opened the PBA Bubble games with a 100-95 win over the Alaska Aces. (3:23)

Talk about starting the PBA bubble off with a bang.

Roger Pogoy and Jayson Castro turned in big-time performances for an undermanned TNT side that escaped Alaska 100-95 for the first win of the 2020 Philippine Cup restart Sunday at the Angeles University Foundation gym in Pampanga.

Pogoy wasted no time putting on a show by firing a career-high 45 points built around 10 triples before ceding the spotlight in the final minutes to Jayson Castro (28 points), whose heroics late in the game helped the Tropang Giga complete a comeback from 17 down against the Aces.

The duo were the only players to score in double figures for TNT, which dealt with the exit of the debuting Poy Erram, who was ejected late in the third quarter, and Troy Rosario, who fouled out after just 23 minutes. Ray Parks also missed the season opener with a calf strain.

"We're lucky we won this game. We barely survived this game," said TNT coach Bong Ravena after the game.

Pogoy said he felt the struggle of not having played competitive basketball in a long while before finding his rhythm off a pass from Erram for his first basket of the night. Before exiting the game, Erram led the team with six assists to go with four points and eight rebounds.

"I'm thankful for Poy, my first basket came off his pass," he said. "Good thing I was in good condition. I wasn't used to playing 5-on-5 again so I groped for form early on, but my conditioning was there."

The 28-year-old guard hopes to be able to sustain his good play, even if it won't always come in the form of explosive scoring nights.

"That's the most difficult thing to do, to keep up that type of play. But I'll try my best. Even if I don't score that much, as long as I can help the team and we win, I'm OK with that," he said.

TNT's offense fired blanks in the first quarter and made only five of 20 shots before letting Alaska take a 32-15 lead early in the second frame.

In search of answers, the Tropang Giga found one in the form of a red-hot Pogoy.

After going scoreless in the first 12 minutes, Pogoy exploded for 21 points on 5-for-9 threes in the following period. That included eight straight to give TNT a 48-45 lead with 57 seconds left in the first half.

The swingman dropped 10 more in the third and 14 in the payoff period but cooled down late in the fourth quarter after sustaining a cut above his left eye with over two minutes to go in the game.

Castro took charge from that point on by scoring TNT's last six points, including a drive for the dagger with 27 seconds left and the final two free throws that effectively sealed the win with 14 ticks remaining.

Pogoy, who also grabbed eight boards and two assists, shot 17-for-29 from the field and logged the highest-scoring game from any local since Stanley Pringle put up 50 for NorthPort in July 2018.

"We expected that from him. He always has to have the numbers. He needs to sustain these every night," Ravena said. "We're lucky his numbers were there, him and Jayson."

Abu Tratter led Alaska (0-1) with 17 points in the loss. DiGregorio and Robbie Herndon added 16, while Vic Manuel scored 15.

THE SCORES

TNT (100) - Pogoy 45, Castro 28, Rosario 9, Erram 4, De Leon 4, Enciso 2, Harvey 2, Reyes 2, Montalbo 0, Vosotros 0.

ALASKA (95) - Tratter 17, DiGregorio 16, Herndon 16, Manuel 15, Racal 8, Marcelino 5, Brondial 5, Ebona 4, Teng 3, Galliguez 2, Ayaay 2, Casio 2, Andrada 0.

Quarters: 15-30, 48-48, 71-72, 100-95.

EXTRA DRIBBLES

- Pogoy's 10 3s tie the TNT record he set and are also the most since Chris Ross made 10 in Game 2 of the 2019 Commissioner's Cup semifinals last year. His previous career-high in points was 38.

- Pogoy's 45 is also the third-highest in a game by a local TNT player, just behind Asi Taulava's 49 (2003 Invitational) and 50 (2004 Fiesta Cup) in the franchise leaderboard.

- TNT attempted 78 shots, and more than half of those (48) came from three-point range.

NEXT GAMES

- TNT vs. Terrafirma on Oct. 13, 6:45 p.m.

- Alaska vs. Meralco on Oct. 14, 4 p.m.