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Sports

Blazing TNT secures prime spot

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Blazing TNT secures prime spot
TNT’s RR Pogoy takes off for a layup versus NorthPort’s Sidney Onwubere.
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Kings rally past fuel masters, boost own drive

MANILA, Philippines — Pacesetting TNT stopped streaking NorthPort on its track, 102-92, to capture the No. 1 seeding and the prized quarterfinal incentive in the PBA Philippine Cup at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga yesterday.

The Tropang Giga unleashed an array of heroes led by gunner Mikey Williams and energizer Kib Montalbo to take the fight out of the Batang Pier and storm to their third straight win and 9-1 overall.

NorthPort, which swept its three assignments last week, fell to 4-4 on the day coach Pido Jarencio returned to call the shots after spending time in quarantine.

Regardless of the outcome of its last elims assignment against Alaska on Saturday, TNT has already taken prime position in the playoffs, armed with the win-once bonus against the No. 8.

“In any tournament, you want to grab any advantage that you can. This means we’ll have an advantage but that advantage won’t mean anything if we don’t take advantage of that,” said coach Chot Reyes.

“Of course, we’d rather be twice-to-beat than needing to beat somebody twice. But the job is far, far from over,” he added.

Sustaining his hot scoring in Bacolor, Williams gunned in 29 points spiked by five-of-eight three-point shooting, making 19 in TNT’s second-half breakaway.

Montalbo erupted for a career-high 22 markers highlighted by a 4-of-6 marksmanship from the deep, aside from helping hound NorthPort star Robert Bolick.

Troy Rosario (18), Kelly Williams (11) and Jayson Castro (nine) joined the scoring fray.

The five took turns hitting the big shots as TNT wiped out an early 22-32 deficit, wrested control with a 34-23 exchange in the third, and fended off the Batang Pier’s fourth-quarter rally.

With Bolick held to 12, Paolo Taha took the cudgels with 20 for the Batang Pier, who missed key players Sean Anthony (bone spurs) and Greg Slaughter (bacterial infection) due to health woes.

Later, embattled holder Barangay Ginebra (4-5) boosted its playoffs drive with a come-from-behind 94-87 victory over Phoenix (4-6).

Stanley Pringle (31 points) and LA Tenorio (23) spearheaded a searing 21-6 windup as the Japeth Aguilar-less Gin Kings got back on track and inside the Magic 8.

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