PBA Philippine Cup

No upsets as TNT, NLEX post contrasting wins over Terrafirma, Converge

Martin Mendoza

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No upsets as TNT, NLEX post contrasting wins over Terrafirma, Converge

VETERAN MOVES. TNT's Jayson Castro in action against Terrafirma.


TNT rides on a balanced attack to escape Terrafirma, while Robert Bolick erupts for a new career-high 46 points as NLEX makes easy work of Converge

MANILA, Philippines – The TNT Tropang Giga made sure that there would be no upset this time around. 

After a stunning loss to former league cellar dweller Blackwater Bossing in its previous outing, TNT got back on track and sent the erstwhile unbeaten Terrafirma Dyip crashing back to earth with a 100-97 escape in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Saturday, March 9. 

Veteran guard Jayson Castro turned back the hands of time and steered the Tropang Giga to the hard-earned victory with a team-high 23 points on an efficient 7-of-12 shooting. 

Playing without key players Roger Pogoy and Kelly Williams due to injuries, Calvin Oftana and Glenn Khobuntin helped Castro carry TNT’s scoring cudgels with 19 points each, while rookie Henry Galinato also stepped up big as he posted career-highs of 17 markers and 11 rebounds.

“Obviously, those are two starters that we’re missing,” said TNT head coach Chot Reyes of Pogoy and Williams. 

“But that’s the main reason why we want to build a deep team. Experience tells us that injuries are always part of any conference,” added Reyes as TNT also continues to play without its top big man Poy Erram due to a knee injury.  

After Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser missed a pair of free throws that could’ve extended TNT’s slim 98-97 lead with 44 seconds remaining, Terrafirma failed to capitalize on the opportunity to overtake the Tropang Giga as Aldrech Ramos and Juami Tiongson failed to connect on their potential go-ahead baskets. 

Castro then sealed the win for TNT with two clutch free throws with only 6 seconds left as three-point heaves by Javi Gomez de Liaño and Tiongson were both way off in the endgame.

“Our discussion before the game, even before the Blackwater game, was we know that these teams are going to make it very difficult for us,” said Reyes.

“We had to prepare long and hard for them. We expected a tough game and that’s exactly what it was.” 

Top rookie Stephen Holt paced Terrafirma with an all-around showing of 24 points, 8 rebounds, and 7 assists, while Tiongson and Gomez de Liaño added 21 and 18 markers, respectively. 

TNT hiked its record to 2-1 and handed Terrafirma its first loss of the conference after a surprise 2-0 start. 

In the second game, Robert Bolick played like a man possessed as the NLEX Road Warriors made easy work of the winless Converge FiberXers, 115-93. 

Bolick showed Converge no mercy as he went off for a new career-high 46 points on 17-of-26 shooting, including a 5-of-12 clip from beyond the arc, 5 rebounds, and 8 assists.

Thanks to his last-second three-pointer, Bolick surpassed his previous mark of 44 points, which he set in 2022 while still playing for the NorthPort Batang Pier. 

Like Bolick, Robbie Herndon knocked down five treys to finish with 17 points, while Jhan Nermal chipped in 11 markers. 

Leading by only 2 points at halftime, 54-52, Bolick took over and unloaded 18 of his 46 points in the third quarter to help NLEX pull away from Converge before entering the final frame, 84-71.

Bolick and the rest of the Road Warriors never looked back from that point on as they cruised to their third win in four matches, while keeping Converge winless in four tries.    

“I just wanted him to score. We needed to pull away,” said NLEX head coach Frankie Lim of Bolick’s 46-point explosion.

“I told them during halftime, we can’t allow Converge to hang around. It’s dangerous, especially in the endgame,” added Lim in Filipino. 

Justin Arana topscored for Converge in the lopsided defeat with 20 points. 

The Scores

First Game

TNT 100 – Castro 23, Oftana 19, Khobuntin 19, Galinato 17, Ganuelas-Rosser B. 11, Aurin 4, Monalbo 4, Heruela 3, Ebona 0, Reyes 0, Ganuelas-Rosser M. 0, Ponferada 0.

Terrafirma 97 – Holt 24, Tiongson 21, Gomez de Liaño 18, Go 11, Alolino 9, Ramos 5, Sangalang 5, Camson 2, Cariño 2, Olivario 0, Calvo 0, Cahilig 0. 

Quarters: 23-21, 50-41, 73-69, 100-97.

Second Game

NLEX 115 – Bolick 46, Herndon 17, Nermal 13, Amer 10, Ular 6, Valdez 5, Nieto 4, Semerad 4, Charcos 3, Rodger 3, Fajardo 2, Marcelo 2, Miranda 0, Pascual 0.

Converge 93 – Arana 20, Santos 18, Stockton 13, Winston 10, Ambohot 8, Melecio 5, Delos Santos 4, Fleming 4, Fornilos 3, Balanza 3, Nieto 3, Zaldivar 2, Caralipio 0, Maagdenberg 0. 

Quarters: 24-28, 54-52, 84-71, 115-93. 

– Rappler.com 

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