By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
ALREADY assured of a quarterfinal spot, the TNT KaTropa try to stay on top of their game and go for their seventh win in as many games in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup when they face off with the Alaska Aces today at 7 p.m. at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
The lone unbeaten team left in the season-ending PBA tournament, the text masters seek to keep their affairs as such as they move to preserve their good standing in the top half of the race and gain the twice-to-beat incentive in the next round.
TNT (7-0) saw its unblemished record greatly threatened by Allen Durham and the rest of the Meralco Bolts last time around with the latter forcing the KaTropa in an intense battle all the way to the end with before bagging the win, 116-113, on Oct. 12.
On the lead of super-import KJ McDaniels, the KaTropa managed to get better traction in the payoff quarter which they used with much effectiveness to stave off the Bolts and complete the come-from-behind victory that had them bucking a 16-point deficit early in the contest.
Mr. McDaniels finished with 51 points to go along with 10 rebounds and four blocks.
Roger Pogoy had 23 points while Jayson Castro wound up with 21 points. Troy Rosario was the other KaTropa who finished in double-digit scoring with 12.
“Good thing we have an import like KJ McDaniels who is always there to take charge for us when we need him to,” said a relieved TNT coach Bong Ravena after their win.
Out to stop the streaking KaTropa are the Aces (1-5), who are having it rough in the ongoing tournament but managed to book their first win in their last game.
Opened its campaign with five straight losses, Alaska finally barged into the win column with a 78-71 victory over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on Oct. 13.
Import Frank House played huge in said game, finishing with 22 points and 23 rebounds.
Jeron Teng also had a solid outing with 18 points and nine boards to help give Jeffrey Cariaso his first win as Alaska head coach.
“Just really happy to get that monkey off our back. Hopefully we get to sustain this kind of level play in our other games,” said Mr. Cariaso, who replaced Alex Compton as Aces coach during the in between conference break.
Meanwhile, playing in the first game at 4:30 p.m. are the Bolts (3-2) against the Blackwater Elite (2-3).
Meralco will try to bounce back from its loss to TNT in their last game.
Import Durham is leading the way for the Bolts with averages of 29.6 points, 6.4 assists and 5.5 rebounds.
Blackwater, for its part, is angling to make it back-to-back wins after beating the defending champions Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 95-89, on Wednesday.
Import Marqus Blakely led the way for the Elite with 21 points and 13 rebounds, with Mac Belo and Michael DiGregorio adding 20 and 15 points, respectively.