The TNT KaTropa found themselves in a precarious position late but made a timely run that broke the hearts of the struggling Alaska Aces, 107-106, in a tight Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup encounter on Friday at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Alaska, which entered the game 0-3 this conference and on an 11-game losing streak dating back to the Commissioner’s Cup, had a shot to finally end their skid as they led by seven, 99-92, with under four minutes remaining.
But TNT went on a 15-4 run that made it a 107-103 lead inside the final minute and made the necessary stops in the endgame to steal away the victory.
RR Pogoy exploded for 16 points in the fourth quarter to finish with 25 points while Jayson Castro nearly notched a triple-double as he tallied 23 points, nine rebounds and 10 assists in the win.
Import Michael Craig contributed huge numbers as well with 28 and 19 rebounds for TNT, which bounced back from a loss to San Miguel in their previous game to improve to 2-1.
Alaska is now 0-4 in the Governors’ Cup despite an incredible showing from reinforcement LaDontae Henton, who put up 42 points and 22 rebounds in the defeat.
The Aces were in great position in the first half with their Henton dominating for 21 points and 15 rebounds over the first two periods. Behind that performance, the Aces found themselves ahead, 47-38, at the half.
They managed to maintain a comfortable lead well into the fourth quarter thanks to some big baskets from Calvin Abueva, who came alive in the final period before finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
The Aces caught a lucky break, too, when the TNT import Craig fouled out with about five minutes left in the game.
But the resilient KaTropa would not let that deter them.
Even without their import, TNT went on a 7-0 run that tied the game at 99-all on a three-pointer from Pogoy, who had already nailed two threes earlier in the quarter.
After a basket from Henton, Pogoy again came up big as he nailed another three-pointer, this time a stepback from the left corner, that gave TNT its first taste of the lead since the first quarter, 102-101.
Henton, who scored 12 points in the fourth quarter, countered with another basket for Alaska but TNT responded with clutch scores from Ranidel de Ocampo and Castro, who nailed a trey that made it 107-106 with 47 seconds left.
The Alaska import responded with a three on the other end but even with a crucial stop, they could not convert in their last possession.
Castro and Pogoy combined to score 21 of the last 25 of TNT’s points.