MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Jayson Castro returned from an Achilles injury in top form, sizzling for 26 points to lift Tropang TNT over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 114-103, in the 2016 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Monday, March 21 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Castro came back after a one-game absence and caught fire from beyond the arc with 4-of-7 triples, on top of 4 rebounds, 4 assists, a steal and a block off the bench.
The Tropa have now won two games in a row for the first time this conference as they hike their record to 4-4.
"At least we're still there. We have to take care of the next 3 games," said head coach Jong Uichico. "Hopefully we can keep up the energy, the way we're playing right now. I think that's what we lacked in our previous conferences."
David Simon tallied 20 points, 14 rebounds, 4 assists, two steals and two blocks. Jai Reyes chipped in 12 points, including back-to-back 3-pointers early in the fourth that gave TNT its biggest lead at 101-79.
Ryan Reyes hustled his way to 12 points to go with 7 rebounds, two assists and 3 steals while Dylan Ababou and Troy Rosario had 11 markers each. Rosario also tracked down 6 boards.
TNT maintained its strong start for much of the game, allowing Rain or Shine to come only to within 6 with 3:25 left in the third frame. The Tropa swiftly turned back the Painters with a momentum-crushing 13-2 run to end that period and re-establish a 92-75 edge entering the last quarter.
Rain or Shine sliced a 22-point deficit to just 11 with under two minutes to go but did not have enough left in the tank to go farther.
JR Quiñahan's career-high 25 points along with 12 rebounds and two steals off the bench went to waste in the defeat. Mo Charlo added 22 points on 11-of-16 free throws to go with 8 rebounds.
Jericho Cruz finished with 21 markers making 7 of his 13 field goals while Maverick Ahanmisi tallied 11 points and 5 assists as Rain or Shine's 3-game win streak came to an end and they settled for a similar 4-4 slate.
The Painters played without head coach Yeng Guiao, who served his one-game suspension for his words and actions last week in a game against Mahindra. Assistant coach Caloy Garcia took over for this game.
Paul Lee, who is still feeling his way back after missing the Painters' first 5 games due to a knee injury, had another stroke of bad luck midway in the second period.
Lee challenged a Ryan Reyes triple attempt and ended up with his left knee colliding with Reyes' right as both crumpled to the floor. He managed to stand up and was seen shaking it off along the sidelines as he was subbed out but he never returned to the game.
Lee played just 3 minutes and missed his lone field goal attempt.
Quarter scores: 31-23, 59-44, 92-75, 114-103.