TNT stayed red-hot even without Jayson Castro after rolling past former coach Nash Racela and Blackwater 109-96 Thursday night in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Angeles University Foundation Sports and Cultural Center.
Usual suspects Roger Pogoy, Ray Parks Jr., Troy Rosario, Poy Erram and Simon Enciso carried the load as the Tropang Giga regained the solo lead after stretching their unbeaten to five games despite not having Castro in action.
Coach Bong Ravena said TNT opted to rest Castro because of tightness on his right calf.
The Tropang Giga defeated the Elite for the 14th time in 15 games since the latter joined the pro ranks in the 2014-15 season. They also won over Racela, who called the shots for TNT from 2016 to 2018.
Ravena, however, said they can’t be satisfied with TNT’s fourth consecutive double-digit victory.
“We have so many things to improve, especially on defense. We have to go back to the drawing board and improve our defense,” he said.
Pogoy, named as the first Player of the Week inside the bubble by the PBA Press Corps, scored the Tropang Giga’s first eight points on his way to finish with 20, along with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.
Parks had 18 points, three rebounds and five assists, Rosario produced 17 points and 12 rebounds and Erram added 14 points, five rebounds and five assists despite rolling his right ankle in the third quarter.
Also having a good showing was Enciso, who scored a season-high 16 points on 6-of-13 shooting. The guard acquired from Alaska in a deal that sent Mike DiGregorio is picking up his offense after averaging 2.5 points on 2-of-14 shooting in the first two matches.
Enciso hit back-to-back triples, including a half-court shot at the buzzer to end the first quarter with TNT up 34-25.
Don Trollano tallied 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists but the Elite absorbed their second straight loss while dropping to 2-3.
Blackwater, which was handed a 120-82 loss by Alaska last Tuesday, played hours after all members of the contingent took part in a swab test following a COVID-19 scare inside the bubble with the suspected case of a game official.
TNT 109 — Pogoy 20, Parks 18, Rosario 17, Enciso 16, Erram 14, Washington 6, Semerad 5, Reyes 5, Vosotros 4, De Leon 2, Flores 2, Alejandro 0.
BLACKWATER 96 — Trollano 23, Belo 16, Tolomia 12, Golla 9, Sumang 8, Gabriel 7, Canaleta 3, Dennison 3, Salem 3, Desiderio 2, Dario 2, Escoto 0.
Quarters: 34-25, 61-49, 87-73, 109-96.