Jason Castro exploded for 32 points, including 13 bridging the fourth and the overtime periods, to steer the Ka-Tropa to its third straight win.
By Patrick Sutare
PASAY--TNT just served the latest heartbreaker to the slumping NLEX team.
Falling behind by as much as 29, and 18 heading to the fourth, the Ka-Tropa relied on Jayson Castro to lead a fight back and frustrate the reeling Road Warriors in OT, 126-121, Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The 5'11 star point guard exploded for 32 points, including 13 bridging the fourth and the overtime periods, to steer the Ka-Tropa to its third straight win.
The Road Warriors had complete control of the first three quarters before falling apart late.
They got off like a house on fire, appearing to carry significant chips on their shoulders after a painful loss at the buzzer against Star in their last outing. They poured in an earth-shattering 42 points just in the first quarter while limiting TNT to just 22.
NLEX continued to run riot of TNT's lackluster defense in the second canto as they tallied their 70th point of the game with still over two minutes to go in the first half. They carried a commanding 76-53 lead into the halftime break.
While the Ka-Tropa played fine as well on offense, it was the Road Warriors' bizarre chemistry that punished the more favored TNT squad in first 24 minutes of play.
Making a living on a fast-paced type of offense, NLEX also exhibited sound ball movement and a way more disciplined court awareness in the rolling stretch.
In fact, the cellar-dwelling Road Warriors reached the century mark in just the third quarter which ended with them comfortably ahead, 101-83.
But TNT, being a championship team as it is, spured a run in the final frame led by Castro and Donte Green as a 17-4 uprising brought them to within 5, 100-105 before Wayne Chism finally stopped the bleeding for NLEX with 6:08 to go.
Troy Rosario then converted on an and-1 play on the end and split a pair to pull the Ka-Tropa to within three, 104-107.
It became a total slugfest since.
Castro would hit a huge triple off a timeout to make it a two-point affair, 110-112, 54.4 ticks left.
Chism split his freebies on the other end but Ranidel de Ocampo tied the game at 103 via a corner pocket trey.
But just like their last defeat to Star, NLEX botched another chance to win the game in their final play.
They almost suffered the exact kind of loss in regulation but Castro's potential game-winner rattled out the rim.
It was obvious, however, that the momentum already shifted to TNT's side going to the extension that eventually scored them the win.
Chism scattered 35 points and 21 rebounds, being a potent piece on the inside and outside assault of NLEX early before being stifled by TNT's bigs in the final stretch. Kevin Alas mustered 19.
NLEX stays winless after five games and remains at the cellar of the team standings.
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