by Jonas Terrado
TNT KaTropa scuttled Rain or Shine’s repeated rallies in the fourth quarter to gain a 100-85 win and secure the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals in the final elimination round doubleheader of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Outside shots by Kelly Williams and Troy Rosario enabled the KaTropa to thwart the Elasto Painters’ comeback attempts and finish the elims tied with the Alaska Aces for the second-best record at 8-3.
The KaTropa, however, settled for third due to their 110-100 loss to the Aces last May 13 in Antipolo City and will play a best-of-three series against the No. 6 seed, which was being determined in the second game between San Miguel Beer and Magnolia.
TNT will either face the two teams or Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the quarters which starts Monday at the same venue.
Import Joshua Smith had 25 points and 13 rebounds despite wearing a black mask to protect his nose which was accidentally hit by Meralco import Arinze Onuaku in their game several weeks ago.
Rosario scored 19 points, Williams hit six of his nine points in the fourth and Terrence Romeo dished out 12 assists despite two points for the KaTropa.
TNT played sans Jayson Castro, who despite being uniform opted to take a dayoff in preparation for the quarterfinals.
Racela admitted that he gave Castro the rest to recover from his involvement, along with Roger Pogoy, Romeo and Rosario in Gilas Pilipinas’ brawl with Australia in the FIBA World Cup Qualifiers last Monday.
Pogoy played just 13 minutes and scored eight points.
“If you think they don’t need time to recover from that, then we could question them,” Racela said. “But to me as a coach – because they asked for it – it’s my responsibility to give it to them.”
Reggie Johnson finished with 12 points and 14 rebounds but Rain or Shine, which seemingly played lackluster having clinched the No. 1 seed and the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarters, finished with a 9-2 record.
In the second game, Magnolia failed to avoid the difficult task of having to win twice in the quarterfinals despite defeating defending champion San Miguel, 101-97, in the final elimination round match of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots needed 14 points to play a best-of-three series in the quarters but settled for a momentum-building victory in the Petron Saturday Special contest ahead of their match against the No. 2 seed Alaska Aces.
Wayne Chism had 21 points and 14 rebounds in his second game since replacing Justin Jackson during the break while Ian Sangalang and Paul Lee added 14 points each for the Hotshots, who finished tied with San Miguel and Barangay Ginebra at 6-5 but was seeded seventh due to an inferior quotient.
Ginebra gained the No. 5 seed and a match with No. 4 Meralco in a best-of-three duel while San Miguel is ranked sixth and will play third-placer TNT KaTropa in the other similar series.
The best-of-three affairs is slated Monday at the Big Dome.
Top seed and twice-to-beat Rain or Shine battles No. 8 GlobalPort in the fourth quarterfinal pairing.
Renaldo Balkman finished with 31 points, eight reeounds, four assists, three steals and six blocks for the Beermen.
TNT 100 – Smith 25, Rosario 19, Reyes 12, Williams 9, Pogoy 8, Semerad 6, Trollano 6, Cruz 5, Garcia 4, Paredes 4, Romeo 2, Golla 0, Carey 0, Tamsi 0.
Rain or Shine 85 – Johnson 12, Tiu 11, Ahanmisi 10, Yap 10, Almazan 9, Belga 9, Nambatac 8, Onwubere 6, Daquioag 5, Torres 3, Maiquez 2, Norwood 0, Ponferada 0, Borboran 0, Washington 0, Casiño 0.
Quarters: 24-20, 47-39, 76-58, 100-85.
MAGNOLIA 101 – Chism 21, Lee 14, Sangalang 14, Barroca 11, Herndon 10, Jalalon 9, Melton 8, Brondial 5, Dela Rosa 4, Simon 3, Gamalinda 2, Reavis 0, Ramos 0
SAN MIGUEL 97 – Balkman 31, Fajardo 18, Santos 13, Lassiter 12, Ross 9, Cabagnot 9, Nabong 5, Rosser 0, Heruela 0
Quarters: 29-27; 45-44; 78-76; 101-97.