By Adrian Stewart Co
TNT Tropang Giga leaned on the fourth quarter exploits of Jeth Troy Rosario to turn back Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters, 84-80, in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup on Sunday night at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.
Staring at a 77-70 deficit midway in the fourth quarter, Rosario drilled eight consecutive points to surge the Tropang Giga ahead at 80-77 on a fast break layup by Roger Pogoy with over three minutes left.
The Fuel Masters knotted the score for the last time at 80-80 on a three-pointer by RJ Jazul but Rosario put the Tropang Giga ahead anew at 82-80 on a layup with 1:52 left in the match.
Phoenix had an opportunity to send the game into overtime but Jason Perkins misfired his layup try in the final 18 seconds. Bacolodnon guard Kib Montalbo iced the victory for TNT with two free throws.
Rosario finished the game with 15 points, 10 coming in the fourth quarter, while Pogoy and Jayson Castro added 13 and 10 markers, respectively, as the Tropang Giga stayed undefeated after three matches.
“Simple lang. In our team building, preseason training camp, sinabi ko kay Troy, ‘I don’t need you to be the next Ranidel De Ocampo. I need you to be the first Troy Rosario,’” Tropang Giga head coach Vincent “Chot” Reyes said. “Show me who Troy Rosario is.”
“And fortunately he’s responding so far, a couple of excellent games from him. ‘Yun lang ang sinabi ko sa kanya,” added the five-time Coach of the Year.
Matthew Wright top-scored with 15 points, Perkins added 14 markers, while Vic Manuel, Chris Banchero and rookie Aljun Melecio had 13, 12 and 11, respectively, as the Fuel Masters dropped to 1-4.
TNT 84 – Rosario 15, Pogoy 13, Castro 10, Khobuntin 9, M. Williams 9, K. Williams 8, Marcelo 6, Montalbo 5, Exciminiano 3, Alejandro 3, Erram 3, Heruela 0, Washington 0.
PHOENIX 80 – Wright 15, Perkins 14, Manuel 13, Banchero 12, Melecio 11, Jazul 6, Pascual 3, Chua 2, Demusis 2, Rios 2, Garcia 0.
Quarterscores: 17-26, 40-45, 60-63, 84-80./ASC, WDJ