Troy Rosario took over in the fourth quarter as TNT came from behind to nip Phoenix, 84-80, and stay undefeated in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday night, August 1 at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Rosario scored 10 of the Tropang Giga’s 24 points in the closing period, including a tip-in off Mikey Williams’ missed layup with 1:56 left that proved to be the dagger basket.
The 6-foot-7 forward came through with 15 points on an efficient 5-of-8 shooting on top of eight rebounds and an assist to power TNT to its third straight victory in as many games.
It was a perfect gift for the 57th birthday of decorated head coach Chot Reyes whose wards clawed their way back from an early 16-point deficit.
Reyes commended his players for grinding it out despite having a limited rest coming off their 79-69 win against Rain or Shine just two days ago.
“We’re not yet at that level where we can come in and play successive games well. Good thing lang, even when they went up big, we just kept at it and I just kept throwing players in,” said the former national team tactician.
RR Pogoy racked up 13 points, four rebounds and three steals while Jayson Castro tallied 10 markers, nine assists and five boards for the Tropang Giga, who needed to overcome the Fuel Masters’ searing 24-8 start.
Fourth overall pick Mikey Williams continued to struggle offensively but still chipped in nine points on 4-of-19 shooting to go with nine rebounds and four dimes in the triumph.
Matthew Wright had 15 points and Jason Perkins had 14 markers to lead a balanced offense that went down the drain as Phoenix plunged to a second consecutive loss and an overall 1-4 slate.
Vic Manuel had 13 points while Chris Banchero and Aljun Melecio had 12 and 11 markers, respectively, for the Topex Robinson-coached team.
TNT 84 – Rosario 15, Pogoy 13, Castro 10, Khobuntin 9, M.Williams 9, K.Williams 8, Marcelo 6, Montalbo 5, Exciminiano 3, Alejandro 3, Erram 3, Heruela 0
PHOENIX 80 – Wright 15, Perkins 14, Manuel 13, Banchero 12, Melecio 11, Jazul 6, Pascual 3, Demusis 2, Chua 2, Rios 2, Garcia 0
Quarters: 17-26, 40-45, 60-63, 84-80