With its super rookie leading the way and the enemy showing up a badly-decimated crew, TNT on Wednesday ripped NorthPort, 102-92, to take top-seeding in the first round of the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs and earning a twice-to-beat advantage over the lowest squad that will make the draw.
Mikey Williams scored 29 points and Kib Montalbo added 22 as the Tropang Giga won a third straight game while halting the Batang Pier’s winning streak at three as NorthPort did not suit up the injured Sean Anthony and the 7-foot Greg Slaughter at Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym.
“Still, they came out and gave us a lot of problems,” TNT coach Chot Reyes later said after his charges rose to 9-1 with a game left in their elimination round schedule. “We knew we were in for a battle because they are tall, athletic, long. This was just a bad matchup for us.”
The Tropang Giga trailed by as many as 10 early in the second period, only to blitz the Batang Pier with a 20-5 run that set the tone for the rest of the match as NorthPort took its first loss since the resumption of the conference and dropped to a level 4-4 card.
Still, with three games left, the Batang Pier have their playoff hopes firmly in their hands.
Paolo Taha paced the Batang Pier with 20 points, while Robert Bolick, who scored 26 the last time out in leading them past NLEX, was held down to two points in the first half on the way to 12 for the game.
Troy Rosario added 18 points and former Most Valuable Player Kelly Williams, plucked out of retirement as a request from Reyes in his return to coaching, scattered 11.
Jayson Castro and RR Pogoy scored just a combined 12 points. But that hole was plugged effectively by the stellar offensive outputs of Mikey and Montalbo.
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