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TNT weathers late Meralco run to move up to 4th

By Dugout Philippines

QUEZON CITY--TNT is steadily getting its bearings back and is ready to make a push towards a coveted goal.

At least that's what coach Nash Racela alluded to after his KaTropa survive a gritty Meralco challenge to come out a 113-107 victor Wednesday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Glen Rice capped a 32-point, 11-rebound night with a drive that started TNT's decisive break from a 107-105 count before Jayson Castro and Roger Pogoy delivered the charities inside the last 57 seconds that made sure the team stayed on course.

Defense also played a key role for TNT's fifth win in eight games as Meralco went 1-for-4 in its last offensive thrusts, a stretch highlighted by Castro blocking Jared Dillinger and Kelly Williams drawing an offensive foul from Allen Durham.

As a result, the KaTropa moved up to No. 4, just behind the Bolts who dropped to 5-2, 7-2 NLEX and 6-1 leader Barangay Ginebra.

Racela said snaring a top four finish, which carries with it a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals following the 11-game eliminations, would realize one of their goals.

"As long as we improve, get better every game, then maybe, that gives us a chance for a top four. That's a destination we want," said Racela.

"But at this point we don't really have any control over that. Kailangan munang manalo. Actually, this is a tough stretch for us since we're set to also face NLEX, Star and then Ginebra, which are all contenders.

"This win today helps us."

Although it remained within the magic circle, Meralco was left hoping it would stay there as it still has to tackle Star, Alaska, GlobalPort and San Miguel Beer.

Despite a phalanx of defenders thrown against him, Durham still wound up with game-highs of 39 points and 24 rebounds, but Baser Amer's 21 points were the only main support he had.

In contrast, TNT also drew 27 points from Castro, 16 points and 13 rebounds from Williams and 11 points from Roger Pogoy.

Despite the discrepancy, Meralco still managed to trim a 35-56 deficit to just two points twice, only to falter in the face of TNT's more superior firepower on this particular game.

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