Not even a protective mask stopped TNT import Joshua Smith from issuing a double-double in the team's win over Rain Or Shine. Rick Johnsen Dela Cruz/Dugout Philippines
By Ricky Manliguis
MANILA— TNT led from start to finish before mangling Rain Or Shine, 100-85, to secure third spot in the first game of the last elimination playdate of the 2018 Honda-PBA Commissioner’s Cup Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.
Playing minus main man Jayson Castro, the KaTropa relied on a hot start while thwarting a late uprising by the Elasto Painters to finish the elimination round with an 8-3 record, tying with Alaska yet losing the twice-to-beat edge due to inferior quotient.
Joshua Smith, wearing a protective mask, finished with a double-double of 25 points and 13 rebounds, while Troy Rosario churned in 19 with eight rebounds for TNT, who had a 22-point cushion, 100-78, in the final three minutes of the match.
ROS mounted a late comeback at the start of the fourth quarter behind Maverick Ahanmisi’s eight straight points, but the lead was too much to overcome.
Ryan Reyes also had a decent game with 12 points, three rebounds and 2 assists for TNT. Castro opted to take a breather after his stint with GIlas Pilipinas.
Reggie Johnson struggled offensively yet still leading the way with 12 and 14 boards for ROS. Chris Tiu added 11, while Ahanmisi and James Yap each had 10.
“In the first half, just watching our players perform, I really felt they had the same mentality as Rain or Shine but we have to remind them that this game has bearing for us specifically over the last two weeks,” said winning coach Nash Racela.
"Whether it's no. 3, no. 4 or no. 5, it doesn't matter. To me it doesn't mean anything. We just made it to the best-of-three series."
TNT 100 - Smith 25, Rosario 19, Reyes 12, Williams 9, Pogoy 8, Semerad 6, Trollano 6, Cruz 5, Garcia 4, Paredes 4, Romeo 2, Golla 0, Carey 0, Tamsi 0.
Rain or Shine 85 - Johnson 12, Tiu 11, Ahanmisi 10, Yap 10, Almazan 9, Belga 9, Nambatac 8, Onwubere 6, Daquioag 5, Torres 3, Maiquez 2, Norwood 0, Ponferada 0, Borboran 0, Washington 0, Casiño 0.
Quarterscores: 24-20, 47-39, 76-58, 100-85.