MANILA, Philippines – TNT locked up on the No. 1 spot heading into the playoffs of the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup after dealing Magnolia a 98-83 drubbing at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, July 17.
Best Import award frontrunner Terrence Jones delivered a near triple-double of 26 points, 13 rebounds, 8 assists, and 5 blocks to catapult the KaTropa to their eighth straight victory and a league-best 10-1 record.
Awaiting the twice-to-beat TNT in the quarterfinals is either Alaska or Meralco, which will vie for the last playoff berth.
Roger Pogoy supplied 20 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 steals, while Jayson Castro had 13 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks in the win that saw the KaTropa break away in the second half against a Magnolia squad that paraded a new import.
Up 45-37 at halftime, TNT pulled away for good behind its locals and entered the final quarter sitting on a comfortable 79-59 cushion.
Brian Heruela added 13 points and Marion Magat chipped in 8 points for the KaTropa.
On the other side, Paul Lee came off the bench with 23 points to power the Hotshots, who ended the elimination round on a four-game losing streak for a 5-6 slate.
Although Magnolia was already assured of the No. 5 slot prior to the match and was scheduled to play the No. 4 Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals, its loss had repercussions on other teams’ fate.
Due to the defeat, San Miguel (5-6) slipped to No. 7 due to an inferior quotient to No. 6 Rain or Shine (5-6) and will face a twice-to-beat disadvantage against No. 2 NorthPort (9-2) in the playoffs.
PJ Simon and Ian Sangalang had 16 and 15 points, respectively, in the loss, while new Hotshots import Rakeem Christmas – who replaced James Farr – had a quiet PBA debut of 8 points and 14 rebounds.
TNT 98 – Jones 26, Pogoy 20, Castro 13, Heruela 13, Magat 8, Trollano 5, Reyes 5, Semerad A. 3, Washington 3, Bono 2, Semerad D. 0, Gollo 0, Taha 0, Casino 0.
Magnolia 83 – Lee 23, Simon 16, Sangalang 15, Jalalon 9, Christmas 8, Pingris 6, Barroca 2, Dela Rosa 2, Herndon 2, Ramos 0, Melton 0, Reavis 0, Abundo 0.
Quarters: 20-19, 45-37, 74-59, 98-83.