By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
SMOKING-hot TNT KaTropa return to PBA Philippine Cup action today, looking to sustain their solid form of late and continue their assault on a top two finish heading into the next round of the season-opening Philippine Basketball Association tournament.
To take on the Columbian Dyip in the 4:30 p.m. game at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City, the KaTropa (6-3), currently at third place with two games left in their elimination round assignment, shoot for their fifth straight victory that would push them closer to the top two.
TNT is eyeing to dislodge the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters (8-3) for second place to earn a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals of the Philippine Cup.
The KaTropa were 92-78 winners over the Alaska Aces in their last game on March 15.
They had it strong at the start and just kept it up the rest of the way to hold off the Aces en route to finalizing their entry into the playoffs.
Roger Pogoy led the way for TNT with 24 points with Troy Rosario adding 15 markers.
Jayson Castro, Brian Heruela and Anthony Semerad each had eight points in a balanced KaTropa attack.
Veteran Kelly Williams only had a point for TNT but finished with 11 rebounds and nine assists.
Out to stop TNT is Columbian (4-6), which is seeking a much-needed win to give its still-precarious playoff hopes a boost.
The Dyip lost in their last game to the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok, 109-83, on March 13 and are now angling for a huge bounce back.
The top duo of Rashawn McCarthy and CJ Perez showed the way for Columbian, finishing with 19 and 14 points, respectively.
Forward Jackson Corpuz had a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Their efforts though were not enough to tow their team to the victory, which would have been huge in its push to break years of failed attempts to reach the playoffs of the All-Filipino tournament.
Meanwhile, playing in the second game at 7 p.m. are Magnolia (4-5) and the already-eliminated Blackwater Elite (2-8).
A lot is riding for the Hotshots in said game as they try to barge into the quarterfinals.
They need to win their last two games, including against Blackwater, to book a spot in the next round complication-free.
Magnolia won over the Northport Batang Pier, 103-90, on Wednesday with Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang top-scoring with 24 and 20 points, respectively.