PBA Philippine Cup

By containing ‘heart and soul’ Belga, TNT rips Rain or Shine to close in on semis

Delfin Dioquino

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By containing ‘heart and soul’ Belga, TNT rips Rain or Shine to close in on semis

LIMITED. Beau Belga in action for the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

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TNT puts the clamps on Beau Belga and holds him to his lowest scoring game in the PBA Philippine Cup as it nails Game 1 against Rain or Shine in their best-of-three quarterfinals

MANILA, Philippines – It was not a coincidence that Rain or Shine suffered its most lopsided loss of the PBA Philippine Cup when Beau Belga got held to his lowest scoring output of the conference.

As it turned out, it was the grand plan of TNT all along.

The Tropang Giga put the clamps on Belga as they dealt the Elasto Painters a 116-99 beating to draw first blood in their best-of-three quarterfinals at the Araneta Coliseum on Friday, May 10.

Enjoying the best scoring conference of his career, Belga – who averaged 17.6 points prior to Game 1 – tallied just 5 points on a 2-of-10 clip as Rain or Shine got limited to under 100 points for only the second time this tournament.

“The key we felt was to control Beau, because Beau is really, I think, the heart and soul of this team,” said TNT head coach Chot Reyes.

Pestered by the Tropang Giga defense, Belga saw his eight-game streak of recording at least 15 points snapped.

Over that impressive stretch, Belga normed 20.8 points as the Elasto Painters went 6-2 en route to the playoffs as the No. 5 seed.

“I thought if we could defend him – there is no way we can really stop him – then that would increase our chances of winning. I think we were able to achieve that,” said Reyes.

TNT also thrived on offense as it posted its highest scoring output of the conference, with Calvin Oftana showing the way with a game-high 32 points on top of 9 rebounds and 2 steals.

Oftana caught fire with 18 points in the third quarter, allowing the Tropang Giga to seize an 85-79 lead before they pulled away for good in the final salvo.

An Oftana three-pointer capped a blazing 23-8 start in the fourth period that gave TNT its biggest lead at 108-87.

“There were times when I forced shots just to get my rhythm. Credit to my teammates for looking for me every possession,” said Oftana, who shot an efficient 12-of-19 from the field, including 5-of-9 from beyond the arc.

Roger Pogoy also did damage for the Tropang Giga with 26 points, while Kelly Williams made his presence felt with a 19-point, 10-rebound double-double.

Jayson Castro added 11 points, 5 assists, and 4 rebounds in the win.

Santi Santillan paced Rain or Shine with 23 points and 4 rebounds, while Mark Borboran (13), Keith Datu (11), Andrei Caracut (11), and Jhonard Clarito (10) also scored in double figures.

The Scores

TNT 116 – Oftana 32, Pogoy 26, K.Williams 19, Castro 11, Khobuntin 8, B.Ganuelas-Rosser 8, Aurin 4, Montalbo 3, Ponferrada 3, Heruela 2, Varilla 0, Galinato 0.

Rain or Shine 99 – Santillan 23, Borboran 13, Datu 11, Caracut 11, Clarito 10, Ildefonso 8, Nocum 7, Demusis 6, Belga 5, Mamuyac 4, Asistio 1, Norwood 0.

Quarters: 26-24, 53-52, 85-79, 116-99.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.