TNT ousts NorthPort

Rondae-Hollis Jefferson of TNT Tropang Giga gets slapped by Kevin Murphy of NorthPort during their PBA Governors Cup game yesterday at the Philsports Arena. The Tropang Giga won, 134-110. Photo courtesy of PBA

A three-week layoff hardly affected the consistency, form and power of TNT Tropang Giga as it blasted NorthPort, 134-110, in the Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup on Wednesday at the Philsports Arena.

The Tropang Giga bucked a sluggish start before turning on its offensive switch in the second period with a 47-point explosion to book the victory and send the Batang Pier to their eighth loss in 11 matches in this season-ending conference.

With that, the quarterfinal picture is now complete with idle Phoenix Super LPG taking the final spot and the right to face the topseed that is armed with a twice-to-beat advantage.

Although the final rankings have yet to be determined, TNT, Ginebra and San Miguel Beer are already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage while Magnolia, Converge and Phoenix will occupy the sixth, seventh and eighth spots, respectively.

TNT turned a 19-27 deficit into a whopping 66-43 advantage and was never threatened from there as the demoralized NorthPort never launched any serious run.

Leading the Tropang Giga’s onslaught in the second period were Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and returning swingman Roger Pogoy, who combined for 31 of the team’s total output.

By the third quarter, TNT continued to pour its night, adding another 43 points more to issue a strong statement that is determined to go all the way in this import-flavored conference.

In notching its seventh straight win, TNT likewise improved its win-loss record to 9-1 and stayed on top of the standings ahead of its last elimination round game against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Friday at the same Pasig City venue.

Hollis-Jefferson, back with TNT after failing to join the squad in the recent East Asia Super League Champions Week, came away with 31 points, pulled down 11 rebounds, issued three assists and picked four steals.

Pogoy, back in harness after missing the Tropang Giga’s last two games in the Governors’ Cup, produced 22 points on a 6-of-8 shooting from beyond the arc.

Calvin Oftana also had a solid game of 16 points, eight rebounds and four assists.

The Tropang Giga dominated the boards, pulling down 65 rebounds against 42 for their rivals. TNT also had 70 points inside the paint, 30 more than NorthPort.

“Our situation in the EASL, we were not in a good situation, so we’re fortunate we didn’t bring it here,” said TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa, referring to the two losses his team experienced while playing in the East Asia Super League Champions Week where they got eliminated early.

Instead, it was the winning mentality the Tropang Giga established in the season-ending conference that spilled over.

“Thankfully, we didn’t bring that here in our PBA return. We just wanted to forget about the EASL and we could just have Rondae as an import and we would be fine,” Lastimosa added.

The Scores:

TNT 134 – Hollis-Jefferson 31, Pogoy 22, Oftana 16, K.Williams 12, M.Williams 9, Chua 8, Khobuntin 7, Tungcab 7, Montalbo 6, Ganuelas-Rosser 6, Varilla 5, Castro 2, Cruz 2, Marcelo 1, Acuno 0

NORTHPORT 110 – Murphy 35, Tolentino 19, Zamar 15, Bolick 14, Munzon 10, Caperal 5, Sumang 3, Chan 3, Taha 2, Calma 2, Ayaay 2, Salado 0, Vigil 0, Balagasay 0

QUARTERS: 19-27, 66-43, 109-69, 134-110

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