SURGING TNT sustained its drive for a coveted goal while adding to Alaska's woes with a cruising 92-78 triumph Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Cuneta Astrodome.
Roger Pogoy scored a game-high 24 points, on a very efficient 9-of-13 shooting and in just over 20 minutes of action, to lead a sustained attack that took form right in the opening quarter.
With Troy Rosario leading those who helped out with 15 points, the KaTropa led by as much as 85-65 before coasting to their fourth straight win and sixth in nine games overall.
Aside from catching idle San Miguel Beer at third-running spot and officially booking a place in the quarterfinals, TNT's drive for a top two finish and a win-once advantage in the next round also kept going.
The four-time defending champion Beermen, however, are sure to snap out of that tie following their game with the league-leading Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters Saturday in Panabo City.
The loss, its third straight, is a costly one for Alaska as it dropped to 3-5 and a tie at eighth with recent conqueror NLEX.
Carl Bryan Cruz's 19 points were enough to pace the Aces who also drew at least 12 points from Sonny Thoss, Chris Banchero and Simon Enciso.
Banchero also had seven rebounds and four assists and Jake Pascual came off the bench for a teamhigh 11 boards to lead Alaska's 53-49 advantage in that department.
But the Aces' recent shooting woes were typified by a 27-of-85 clip from the field compared to the KaTropa's 32-of-71. The latter's bench also outscored their Aces counterparts 40-13.
TNT actually missed 12 free throws, three more than Alaska. But that hardly mattered in a game it took control of right in the first period, which the KaTropa took 23-15.
Pogoy, who scattered 28 points in a 127-89 demolition of Blackwater last Saturday, picked up from where he left off with 11 points in the first 12 minutes of play.
With the likes of Rosario, Jayson Castro and Anthony Semerad chipping in and the Aces failing to find any offensive rhythm, the KaTropa stretched a 47-38 halftime lead to 71-57 before going to the fourth quarter with a 74-62 spread.
Kelly Williams quietly contributed in his own way, scoring only a point but narrowly missing a rare kind of double-double with 11 rebounds and nine assists.
TNT now looks forward to continuing its streak against Columbian on Friday while Alaska will be out to snap out of its funk against Meralco on Wednesday. (NC)
TNT 92 - Pogoy 24, Rosario 15, Heruela 8, Castro 8, Semerad 8, Cruz 6, Trollano 4, Washington 2, Williams 1, Miranda 0, Casino 0, Bono 0.
Alaska 78 - Cruz 19, Thoss 13, Enciso 12, Banchero 12, Teng 9, Ayaay 6, Pascual 5, Exciminiano 2, Baclao 0, Galliguez 0, Potts 0.
Quarters: 23-15, 47-38, 74-62, 92-78.