MANILA, Philippines — It remains an uphill battle for TNT KaTropa despite a 102-98 win over the GlobalPort Batang Pier that booked them a ticket to the playoffs of the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday, January 25 at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay.
TNT’s struggles with consistency were on full display as they narrowly avoided collapse after blowing a 21-point lead with 5:36 left to play, allowing GlobalPort to pull to within two, 98-100, on a Stanley Pringle layup with 36 seconds remaining.
The KaTropa, who are now 6-4, squeaked by after sophomore forward Troy Rosario managed to make up for a crucial late-game turnover on an offensive foul call, by successfully defending Stanley Pringle and calmly sinking two free throws for the final tally.
“Wild game. It’s very obvious that we’re inconsistent as a team and that’s what we’re trying to address,” said head coach Nash Racela, who has been lamenting his team’s unsteady play since their previous win over Mahindra.
The inconsistency is becoming more of a concern now that they have only one game left – against defending champion San Miguel Beer no less – before seeing action in the quarterfinals.
“It’s hard. When you go into the playoffs with that kind of mindset it will be a problem for us,” Racela said.
“We’re a good team when good things happen. We’re not a good team kapag magulo (when it’s messy). Nakita niyo naman kanina (You saw us earlier). We were self-destructing.”
Rookie RR Pogoy had a scoreless first quarter but scattered his team-high 20 points the rest of the way to go with 4 rebounds.
Mo Tautuaa added 18 points and 8 rebounds while Jayson Castro uncorked 16 markers, 4 boards, 4 dimes, and two steals. Kelly Williams scored all 12 of his points in the first half.
Terrence Romeo amassed a game-high 35 points on 6 triples to go with 9 rebounds and 6 assists. Mike Cortez added 15 markers off the bench, while Stanley Pringle had 14 for the Batang Pier, who have lost two straight for a 5-5 slate.
While potholes still abound, Racela is optimistic Wednesday’s near-meltdown is valuable experience for his younger players.
“We need to learn how to win ball games. If you noticed, we had Ganuelas, Pogoy and Rosario in the end game,” Racela said.
“For them to have a chance to play in the end game, they need to learn.” — Rappler.com
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