The TNT Tropang Giga emerged victorious in the Philippine Basketball Association’s (PBA) return from a seven-month lull, beating the Alaska Aces, 100-95, on Sunday at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Pampanga.
Led by Roger Pogoy, TNT bucked a slow start where it struggled offensively and turned things around from the second quarter onwards en route to the win.
The victory made TNT the first team to win in the PBA “bubble” in Clark City where the league will be holed up for the next two months to finish the Philippine Cup and have the league complete at least one conference in its coronavirus pandemic-hit season.
The Aces rode their hot shooting from all angles to finish the first quarter with a 30-15 advantage.
In the second frame, TNT came out on firmer footing, going on a 20-10 run in the first eight minutes to cut its deficit to single digit, 40-35.
It continued with its push the rest of the period, overtaking Alaska, 46-45, with 1:15 to go after a Pogoy triple.
The count was knotted at 48-all at the break.
The two teams continued to slug it out to begin the third canto fighting to a 56-56 draw by the 8:36 mark.
The nip-and-tuck play continued throughout the quarter before Alaska settled with a one-point cushion (72-71) heading into the final period.
The teams tried to create separation against each other to start the last quarter.
Mr. Pogoy and the Tropang Giga would gain better traction, racing to a seven-point lead, 89-82, with six minutes remaining in the game.
Alaska then went on a 10-0 blast in the next three minutes to overtake TNT, 92-89.
Mr. Pogoy stopped the bleeding for the Tropang Giga with a three-pointer with 2:54 left to tie the count at 92-all.
Two free throws by Ryan Reyes gave TNT a two-point lead, 94-92, with 1:39 to go.
Alaska big man Vic Manuel cut TNT’s advantage by one, 94-93, by splitting his charities at the 1:27 mark.
Jayson Castro made it a three-point lead anew, 96-93, 20 seconds later before Abu Tratter pushed Alaska back to within one, 96-95, with 58 ticks left.
The Aces had their chances to go ahead but could not capitalize on them, something Mr. Castro made them pay for as he towed the Tropang Giga to a three-point lead, 98-95, with a basket with 28 seconds to go.
It was a cushion that TNT would leverage on as they went for the closeout after.
Mr. Pogoy showed the way with 45 points, 21 coming in the second quarter. He also had 10 triples.
Mr. Castro backstopped him with 28 points, while Troy Rosario had nine markers.
New Tropa Poy Erram had four points and eight rebounds, but failed to finish the game as he was ejected late in the third period after getting a technical foul for second motion. He already had a flagrant foul 1 earlier in the game.
For Alaska, it was Mr. Tratter who led the way with 17 points, followed by Michael DiGregorio with 16. – Michael Angelo S. Murillo