by Jonas Terrado
Games Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Columbian vs NorthPort
7 p.m. – Rain or Shine vs TNT KaTropa
Pacesetting TNT KaTropa and second-running NorthPort resume their quests for a twice-to-beat advantage against separate playoff rivals in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The KaTropa return from a 12-day layoff against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters at 7 p.m. while the Batang Pier look to regain their winning form against the Columbian Dyip in the 4:30 p.m. curtain raiser.
TNT carries a 7-1 record after winning its last five games while NorthPort is out to bounce back after falling to 7-2 with a 97-87 loss to Phoenix Pulse exactly a week ago.
Import Terrence Jones will again lead the KaTropa’s bid to close in on the elusive quarterfinal bonus.
Jones has righted the ship for TNT since the start conference, averaging 34.5 points highlighted by four 40-point games with 15.9 rebounds, 6.3 assists, 1.3 steals and 3.0 blocks.
Roger Pogoy (17.3 points, 5.0 rebounds, 2.3 assists and 2.9 steals), Jayson Castro (13.1 points, 6.4 rebounds, 6.9 assists and 2.1 steals) and Troy Rosario (11.3 points and 5.1 rebounds) will also be key for coach Bong Ravena and consultant Mark Dickel.
Role players Don Trollano (9.0 points and 5.3 rebounds) and Ryan Reyes (6.3 points on 52-percent three-point shooting) are also expected to step up against a Rain or Shine squad dealing with a 3-4 slate.
Meanwhile, NorthPort is eager to get back on track in order to create more separation from third-running Magnolia, which has won five in a row after a 0-2 start.
Players who will be key in the Batang Pier’s quest are Sean Anthony (16.7 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.4 steals), rookie Robert Bolick (16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.9 assists) and Mo Tautuaa (15.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 3.7 assists).
Import Prince Ibeh also tries to continue imposing his presence in the paint as evident with his averages of 13.2 points, 16.0 rebounds and a league-best 3.2 blocks.