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TNT boosts quarterfinal bid

TNT KaTropa nearly squandered a 21-point first half lead but kept its poise down the stretch to register a huge, morale-boosting win over Meralco, 113-107, to move a step closer to securing a spot in the quarterfinals of the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Glen Rice Jr. started out strong to register team-highs of 32 points and 11 rebounds and Jayson Castro brought his A-game, pouring in 27 points as their duo backstopped TNT KaTropa.

The win was critical for TNT as it improved to 5-3 and kept its place at fifth, while staying in the hunt for a top four finish, while Meralco fell to 5-2 and slipped from second to third place.

Catching the rusty Bolts off guard and sleepwalking, TNT KaTropa mercilessly stepped on the gas pedal in the first half to seize firm control.

Just six minutes through the game, the Tropang Texters already carved a double-digit lead with an 18-7 start and eventually held a 29-17 advantage at the end of one.

In the second frame, things just got better for TNT and even worse for Meralco as the former was able to establish a gigantic 21-point bubble, 56-35, with less than four minutes left before halftime after a jumper from Castro capped a 14-2 spurt.

At the turn, the Texters carried a 63-46 spread.

Meralco came off an 18-day break and that interval between games clearly took its toll on the Bolts as they were out of sync in the first 24 minutes.

In the third, the Bolts finally woke up, outscoring the Texters, 38-26, to claw their way back and give themselves a chance in the fourth, trimming the gap to only five points, 89-84, still in favor of TNT.

Despite staying within striking distance, Meralco was unable to complete its comeback bid as TNT KaTropa stood its ground and kept it at bay in times of need before holding on.

Allen Durham’s monster production of 39 points and 18 rebounds went for naught as the Bolts fell short for the second time in the tournament.

The scores:

TNT 113—Rice Jr. 32, Castro 27, Williams 16, Pogoy 11, Rosario 7, De Ocampo 6, Semerad 5, Reyes 5, Tautuaa 4, Seigle 0.

MERALCO 107—Durham 39, Amer 21, Tolomia 9, Lanete 9, Dillinger 8, Hugnatan 7, Newsome 6, Hodge 4, Caram 4, Nabong 0.

Quarters: 29-17, 63-46, 89-84, 113-107.

Topics: TNT KaTropa , Meralco Bolts , 2017 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup
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