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PBA: TNT dodges NLEX bullet

Games Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
3 p.m. – Globalport vs Blackwater
5:15 p.m. – Alaska vs Meralco

TNT KaTropa engineered the biggest comeback in franchise history last night as it erased a 29-point third quarter deficit to stun the unlucky NLEX Road Warriors with a 126-121 overtime victory in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The KaTropa scored the first seven points of the extension courtesy of Jayson Castro, import Donte Greene and rookie Roger Pogoy to secure their third straight win while extending the frustrations of the Road Warriors with their fifth consecutive defeat in the midseason conference.

Castro scored 32 points with 11 assists in his best game of the conference while Greene contributed 26 points, 16 rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks for TNT, which hasn’t loss since dropping its opening assignment to Meralco last March 24.

KaTropa coach Nash Racela said the escape act should serve as a wake-up call.

“I think the lesson here is we cannot choose kung kailan kami maglalaro,” said Racela, whose team gave up 42 points in the first quarter that saw TNT falling behind by 20.

All seemed lost for TNT when NLEX import Wayne Chism scored with over eight minutes left in the third that put the Road Warriors ahead 89-60.

But TNT slowly erased NLEX’s lead until Castro scored five straight points and found Ranidel de Ocampo for the tying three with 29 seconds left, 113-all. Castro would later miss a game-winning shot at the buzzer.

Castro scored the first basket of overtime, Greene knocked down two free throws before Pogoy uncorked a three-pointer that gave TNT a 120-113 lead with 3:22 left, hastening the Road Warriors’ doom.

It was another heartbreaker for the Yeng Guiao-coached Road Warriors, who absorbed their ninth straight defeat dating back to last conference. NLEX has not won since beating, ironically, TNT, in a game held in Angeles City, Pampanga in early January.

The loss was perhaps more painful than last week’s 105-103 defeat to the Star Hotshots when the Road Warriors’ 21-point comeback went to waste after Jio Jalalon scored a buzzer-beating jumper,.

Meanwhile, the Alaska Aces, still groping for form despite an unbeaten start, shoot for their fifth straight win as they battle the Meralco Bolts today in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

In the curtainraiser, Blackwater and Globalport, with new import Malcolm White, eye their first victory as they clash in the 3 p.m. opener.

TNT 126 – Castro 32, Greene 26, De Ocampo 22, Pogoy 20, Rosario 16, Williams 6, Fonacier 2, Carey 2, Rosales 0, Reyes 0, Tamsi 0.

NLEX 121 – Chism 35, Alas 19, Lastimosa 13, Tiongson 10, Camson 7, Khobuntin 7, Al-Hussaini 7, Anthony 6, Taulava 4, Rios 3, Guinto 3, J. Villanueva 2, Soyud 2, Baracael 2, Lanete 1.

Quarters: 22-42; 53-76; = 83-101; 113-113 (reg); 126-121 (OT).