TNT finally barged into the win column after escaping NLEX, 85-80, late in their PBA Philippine Cup clash Wednesday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
This is the KaTropa’s first win in three games, but they had to go through the needle in order to come away with it.
Leading 71-59 after a Harvey Carey jumper opened the action in the fourth quarter, TNT allowed NLEX to come to within two, 77-79, after JP Erram capped off a slow uphill climb by the Road Warriors.
NLEX, however, failed to capitalize on their foes’ cold shooting and fell behind by five after Roger Pogoy knocked down a triple at the top of the key to give TNT a bit of breathing room with 44 seconds left.
An Erram trey and a split at the free throw line by Jayson Castro still kept them alive, 80-83, with 14 seconds left, but Bong Galanza hit metal on a game-tying three-point attempt at the right arc to dash NLEX’s hopes of a late-game steal.
Pogoy then knocked down two freebies on the other end for the finishing touches.
Pogoy stayed hot and led TNT’s attack once more with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Don Trollano added 15 points—with 12 of those coming in the first half.
“We’re just a team that’s just trying to get better every day. Yun lang ang target namin. We don’t mind the result, basta ma-sustain lang namin ‘yung momentum,” head coach Bong Ravena said.
“We’re improving, we are improving. Compared sa ano, we’re making our shots now. Hopefully consistent kami sa mga ganoon.”
Erram was big again in the middle for NLEX after finishing 19 points, seven rebounds and five blocks. Galanza, on the other hand, still finished with a career-high 19 points and five rebounds.
NLEX, who played without head coach Yeng Guiao after he got ejected in the third quarter, fell to 0-3 for the conference.
TNT 85 – Pogoy 20, Trollano 15, Reyes 11, Heruela 11, Taha 10, Castro 9, Williams 4, Golla 3, Carey 2, Semerad 0.
NLEX 80 – Erram 19, Galanza 19, Paniamogan 10, Fonacier 8, Porter 6, Ighalo 6, Alas 3, Tiongson 3, Quinahan 3, Magat 3, Soyud 0, Baguio 0, Tallo 0.
Quarters: 23-21, 43-41, 69-57, 85-80.