By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE TnT Tropang Giga are heading to the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup quarterfinals with a twice-to-beat advantage after securing the incentive with a 102-92 victory over the Northport Batang Pier on Wednesday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University (DHVSU) Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Following a pedestrian showing in the early part of the contest, the Tropang Giga picked things up on both ends of the court late in the second quarter all the way to the second half to seize control en route to the victory.
The win thrusted TnT to a 9-1 record, assured of a top two finish in the elimination round of the ongoing Philippine Basketball Association tournament and a twice-to-advantage in the opening phase of the playoffs.
Northport got off to a strong start led by Paolo Taha and Kevin Ferrer.
But as the opening half drew to a close, TnT would make its move on the efforts of rookie Mikey Williams and Troy Rosarion, seizing the lead, 42-41, by the half time break.
In the third quarter, the Tropang Giga picked up from where they left off in the second frame, outscoring the Batang Pier, 22-14, to take a 64-55 advantage in the first six minutes.
Northport tried to make up for lost ground after but TnT continued to hold control, 76-64, heading into the final quarter.
The Batang Pier got some traction to begin the fourth quarter, trimming their deficit to just five points, 76-71, by the 9:22 mark.
But TnT was quick to nip the run in the bud, answering with a 6-0 run in the next minute to jack up its lead to double-digits anew, 82-71.
The Tropang Giga continued to take it to the Batang Pier after, extending their lead to as much as 17 points, 100-83, with three minutes to play before wrapping things up.
Mr. Williams top-scored for TnT with 29 points, going 5-of-8 from beyond the arc. Kib Montalbo added 22 points while Mr. Rosario had 18.
For Northport (4-4), which saw its three-game winning streak end with the loss, it was Mr. Taha who led with 20 points. Mr. Ferrer had 17 while rookie Jamie Malonzo finished with 15 points.
The Batang Pier welcomed coach Pido Jarencio back in the game after a battle with COVID-19 but was missing veterans Sean Anthony and Greg Slaughter because of injuries.
Meanwhile, the Meralco Bolts return to action on Thursday after being held out for the whole of last week over the league’s health and safety protocols.
Meralco (5-2) will take on the Terrafirma Dyip (3-6) in the scheduled 2 p.m. contest.
The Bolts lost in their last game to TnT, 91-76, on Sept. 3 before they had to sit it out, along with the Alaska Aces, because of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) concerns.
Terrafirma, for its part, is looking to halt a two-game losing streak that has seen its quarterfinal push hit.
After winning three straight prior, the Dyip fell back to earth and slipped out of the playoff picture, currently at 10th place in the 12-team field.
Also playing are the NLEX Road Warriors (4-5) and the winless Blackwater Bossing (0-9) at 4:35 p.m.