August 25, 2017

Rice delivers as KaTropa send Fuel Masters to their sixth straight loss

GLEN Rice Jr. came up with the game expected of him and TNT KaTropa struck down Phoenix 110-103 Friday in the PBA Governors Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The son of the noted former NBA player finished with 38 points, double his output in his debut game, on top of nine rebounds, five assists and two defensive gems in the stretch.

Gilas stars Jayson Castro and Roger Pogoy, plus veteran Ranidel de Ocampo, also made their presence felt in the crucial fourth quarter as TNT bounced back from a sorry 73-105 drubbing from Rain or Shine last Sunday and improved to a 3-2 record overall.

"We went into this game with the hope Glen will play a lot better than his first game and today he did," said KaTropa coach Nash Racela. "Of course, the addition of our Gilas players also helped us."

Indeed, Castro, despite his questionable status going to the game due to a bruised knee he suffered in Gilas' last game in the FIBA Asia Cup, and Pogoy made crucial plays that enabled TNT to break off from the game's ninth deadlock at 90.

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Fielded only in the second half, Castro scattered nine of his points in the fourth canto and Pogoy five of his 13, including a charity that gave the KaTropa a 108-101 lead and practically iced the game, only 14.9 ticks left.

"Going to the game we knew we would play Roger but nothing sure about Jayson," related Racela. "But when Jayson gave me the signal na okay daw siya then we gambled on using him.

"Again, this team is about making sacrifices. They've done their part sacrificing for the national cause and right away sakripisyo naman sila for TNT."

Providing additional boost for TNT were Kelly Williams, who also came off the bench for 18 points while De Ocampo wound up with 14 points, seven boards and four assists, the last resulting in a Pogoy layup that made it 107-101.

Brandon Brown notched gamehighs of 49 points, 19 rebounds and five steals and also had five dimes, but lost the ball on a drive, committed a passing error and got blocked - the last two times against Rice - inside the last 67 seconds.

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That stretch capped another sorry endgame for Phoenix, which has been its bane for most of its recent defeats.

Joseph Eriobu, another Gilas returnee in Matthew Wright and JC Intal each scored 10 points but the Fuel Masters still suffered their sixth straight loss that dropped them to a 2-6 slate.