TNT routed NorthPort, 134-110, a victory the Tropang Giga actually had no use for but one Phoenix Super LPG needed in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup Wednesday at the Philsports Arena in Pasig City.
The Tropang Giga are already assured of a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals as the top-seeded team with 9-1 win-loss record but still went for the win that benefitted the Fuel Masters.
Phoenix—with a 4-7 record—got free ride to the quarterfinals as NorthPort fell outside of the magic eight for the quarterfinals with a 3-8 card.
Had the Batang Pier won, they would have forced a playoff for the eighth and last quarterfinals berth with the Fuel Masters.
Import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson posted 31 points, 11 rebounds and four steals while Roger Pogoy returned from a sprained ankle with 22 points on 6-of-8 three-point shooting for the Tropang Giga.
“I wasn’t really surprised with the players being rusty in first quarter, but the guys picked it up. Our defense has returned,” TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa said. “I did not even realize that we scored 47 points in the second quarter.”
Down 19-27 in the opening quarter, the Tropang Giga bounced back huge with a 47-16 run for a safe 66-43 halftime lead.
They stretched the gap to 44 points, 97-53, midway the third period.
Calvin Oftana had 16 points and veteran Kelly Williams 12 points for Tropang Giga, who will be facing Barangay Ginebra San Miguel on Friday in the last day of the elimination round.
Import Kevin Murphy led NorthPort with 35 points and 10 rebounds.
NorthPort joined Terrafirma, Blackwater and Rain or Shine on the ousted teams’ list.
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