With athletic big man Kelly Williams leading the way this time, TNT turned back Phoenix with ease on Friday night, 117-98 and put its 2017 PBA Philippine Cup title campaign back on track at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
The 6-foot-6 Williams did most of his damage in the opening half and finished with a double-double performance of 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Four other TNT players scored at least 11 markers as the hot-shooting KaTropa made short work of the hapless Fuel Masters.
Top guard Jayson Castro came off the bench to score 18 points, which bounced back from an 87-98 setback dealt by sister team Meralco last week, while improving to 3-2 overall in a tie with idle Blackwater at fourth spot.
“Masaya that we’re able to get this win,” said TNT’s first-year coach Nash Racela, who also earned his first pro league victory on his second try since assuming the full coaching reins from top deputy Josh Reyes.
“This is not the main objective but ang importante, we’re able to build the team from this win. Marami kaming sinusubukan baguhin starting with our attitude. I know it’s gonna be a process and it will take time to change the attitude. But we’ll be patient.”
Wingman Mark Borboran had a team-high 18 points while rookie Matthew Wright had a team-high 17, but they still could not prevent Phoenix from absorbing its second straight lopsided loss that came on the heels of a 44-point drubbing dealt by Star over the weekend.
The Fuel Masters dropped to 2-3.
It was the 6-foot-6 Williams, the 2008 PBA MVP, who provided the spark for the KaTropa as he tallied 16 points—built around a near flawless 7-of-8 shooting from the field—in the first half that enabled them to pull away and build a comfortable 60-45 lead at the break.
TNT’s depth also came to the fore anew, with the KaTropa shock troopers, led by Castro and guard Kris Rosales, leading their 63-point production, nearly doubling the Fuel Masters’ 33. – Jerome Lagunzad
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TNT 117 – Williams 18, Castro 18, Rosario 17, Rosales 14, Tautuaa 11, Carey 8, Pogoy 7, reyes 7, De Ocampo 5, Rosser 5, Tamsi 5, Golla 2, Sumalinog 0.
PHOENIX 98 – Borboran 18, Wright 17, Baguio 15, Intal 11, Alolino 10, Caperal 9, Enciso 6, Miranda 4, Wilson J. 3, Wilson W. 3, Hayes 2, Javillonar 0, Lanete 0, Torres 0.
Quarterscores: 28-22, 60-45, 90-69, 117-98