IT TAKES one to know one. At least that's the impression Mikey Williams gave about teammate Kib Montalbo when the two conspired to lead TNT over NorthPort ,102-92, Wednesday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Williams again showed the way for the Tropang Giga with 29 points while Montalbo, the 11th overall pick two years ago, backstopped him with a career-high 22 as they mostly led and sustained a second half charge that totally put their team out of the Batang Pier's clutches.
"He's a dog, just a dog," said Williams of the former La Salle standout. "He's given us that energy, the spark that we need day in, day out. Taking on, most of the time, the best challenges that we have. And he's holding his own, he's doing really well. We're all pushing each other, we're all finding ways to get it done."
The Tropa as a whole did and, as a result, notched their third straight win for a 9-1 record overall and a sure No. 1 seeding in the quarterfinals which carries with it a win-once advantage over the No. 8 team in the quarterfinals.
TNT coach Chot Reyes was simply glad with the way his relatively new acquisitions led by Montalbo continue to show improvement, this time enabling him to give Jayson Castro and Roger Pogoy limited minutes.
"We want to make sure we have guys we can count on, who can deliver, step in when certain players are defended well or not making their shots. Hopefully, we can just continue that," said Reyes.
The loss cut short NorthPort's three-game winning run and dropped it to an even 4-4 slate, spoiling the return to the bench of its coaching staff led by head coach Pido Jarencio.
Paolo Taha paced the Batang Pier with 20 points and Jamie Malonzo added 15, but usual top scorer Robert Bolick was held to just 12 points, on 3-of-16 field shooting, after bearing the brunt of TNT's defensive scheme that stymied him from getting any real rhythm going.
Also, a big disadvantage for NorthPort was the absence of Greg Slaughter (skin infection) and Sean Anthony (sprain).
After missing his first eight shots from the field, Bolick did boom in a triple to knot the count at 49-all, but that third and last deadlock proved to be brief in the face of TNT's steady barrage.
Williams actually scored 11 of his points and Montalbo 10 of his during the third period as the Tropa, who trailed by 22-32 early in the second quarter, took a 76-64 lead into the fourth canto.
With Williams and Montalbo hardly letting up and not one among the Batang Pier showing any consistency the difference even got stretched to a high of 100-83.(NC)
TNT 102 - M. Williams 29, Montalbo 22, Rosario 18, Williams 11, Castro 9, Reyes 6, Heruela 4, Pogoy 3, Erram 0, Exciminiano 0, Khobuntin 0, Alejandro 0, Marcelo 0, Javier 0.
NorthPort 92 - Taha 20, Ferrer 17, Malonzo 15, Bolick 12, Grey 10, Onwubere 9, Balanza 4, Lanete 3, Elorde 1, Subido 0, Doliguez 0, Faundo 0, Rike 0.
Quarters: 19-22, 42-41, 76-64, 102-92.