PBA: TNT powers past Blackwater, stays unbeaten

(UPDATED) TNT Tropang GIGA used a big third quarter to pull away from Blackwater, 96-76, and stay undefeated in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, Wednesday afternoon at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

It was the first game of the PBA’s resumption, after the conference was put on hold last August 3 due to the rising COVID-19 Delta variant cases.

The Tropang GIGA avoided the upset axe, thanks to a 37-point third quarter that allowed them to seize complete control after entering the halftime break down by six points, 43-37.

“Our objective sa game na ‘to was to put together 48 minutes of good basketball. Obviously, we failed, because Blackwater outplayed us in the first half,” said TNT head coach Chot Reyes. 

“Coach Nash (Racela) and his staff came up with a solid game plan against us. Fortunately, we were able to adjust, and we wore them down in the second half,” he added.

The Bossing led at the break, thanks to their three-point shooting, with Simon Enciso and Baser Amer accounting for five triples. They stretched their lead to eight points, 45-37, early in the third frame off an Ed Daquioag layup.

But TNT responded with a blistering 16-1 run that put them ahead, 53-46, and the Bossing could not recover. A three-pointer by Brian Heruela gave TNT its first double-digit lead, 60-48, with under five minutes to go in the third quarter.

The Tropang GIGA outscored Blackwater, 37-17, in the pivotal third period. They went on to lead by as much as 26 points, 94-68, with three minutes to go off a JJay Alejandro layup.

“The most important thing for us is to understand why we’re doing this, and at the same time, enjoy. Hopefully, in the way we play, it manifests the joy we have in playing this game,” said Reyes as his team improved to 4-0 in the conference. 

Rookie guard Mikey Williams led TNT with 16 points, while Roger Pogoy had 13 markers and Jayson Castro added 11 points, two rebounds, and two assists. Poy Erram missed a double-double as he grabbed 10 rebounds to go with his eight points. 

Enciso scored 14 points, nine of which came in the first half. Kelly Nabong and Carl Bryan Cruz each had 11 markers. But after making seven of 23 three-pointers in the first half, the Bossing cooled down in the second where they knocked down just one triple out of 18 attempts. 

Blackwater is now 0-5 in the conference. 

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