League-leading TNT rebounded from its stinging loss to San Miguel Beer in a big way after frustrating NLEX, 100-85, Friday, Sept. 10 in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Rookie Mikey Williams erupted for 36 points with four rebounds, three assists and two steals to lead the Tropang Giga’s seventh win in eight games, two days after their unbeaten run was ended by the Beermen, 83-67.
TNT coach Chot Reyes was glad that his team responded well after what he described as a “good old asskicking” by San Miguel the last time, particularly in the third quarter when they made a big breakaway from a 59-all deadlock.
The Tropang Giga also knew that had to match up well with the Road Warriors, who came off a heartbreaking 113-106 double overtime loss to the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots also last Sept. 8.
“We talked about matching the intensity of NLEX in the first half because we knew they’re gonna come out hard after their last game,” Reyes said. “We knew they came from a double-overtime game, and we thought if we could stay with them, eventually our pace will wear them down.
“And I think that’s what happened. I thought Coach Yeng (Guiao) put up a very good gameplan today, they really gave us some problems in the first half. But I think in the second half, like I said, our activity and our pace just wore them down and that double-overtime game two days ago took a toll on them in the second half.”
Leading that charge was Williams, who 13-of-20 shots to recover from a disappointing seven-point showing on a 3-of-13 clip against SMB.
Most of his eight points in the third came before TNT outscored NLEX, 20-5, from that 59-all tie with eight minutes to go in the period to make it 79-64 on Poy Erram’s three. During that run, Williams made five points and had one behind-the-back assist that set up Kib Montalbo’s layup.
TNT would lead by as many as 24 during garbage time, with Williams converting a three for 100-76 with under two minutes to go.
Montalbo scored 13 points for the second straight game with three steals, this time in a starting role as he capitalized on the heavy minutes he got when the outcome was all but decided against San Miguel.
RR Pogoy also had 13 points and grabbed seven rebounds while Kelly Williams and Poy Erram, whose wife gave birth to their second child, added 10 points each while combining for 16 rebounds.
NLEX dropped its second in a row for a 4-4 record, with Kevin Alas being one of four players in double figures with 16.
TNT 100 — Williams M. 36, Montalbo 13, Pogoy 13, Williams K. 10, Erram 10, Rosario 7, Reyes 4, Heruela 4, Marcelo 3, Castro 0, Javier 0, Mendoza 0, Alejandro 0.
NLEX 85 — Alas 16, Trollano 14, Miranda 14, Oftana 11, Quinahan 9, Cruz 8, Porter 5, Paniamogan 3, Soyud 0.
Quarters: 23-26, 47-49, 80-68, 100-85.