Glen Rice Jr. exploded for 43 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists as his near triple-double towed TNT KaTropa to a 104-99 victory over the Star Hotshots in the Oppo PBA Governors’ Cup on Sunday at Ynares Center in Antipolo.
Rice’s all-around effort pulled TNT (7-3) to within reach of locking up a top four finish which guarantees a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals.
Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario each scored 12 markers apiece for KaTropa who almost blew a 17-point lead.
TNT caught fire in the third period, burying five triples to grab a commanding 89-72 lead.
But Star, behind its all-Filipino crew, rallied in the fourth frame as it handcuffed Rice who went silent in the pay-off period after scoring 37 points in the first three quarters.
A booming triple by Paul Lee and a putback by Ian Sangalang with 4:14 left capped off a 14-4 run that closed the Hotshots’ gap to just two, 93-91, with 4:14 left.
But Castro and Pogoy countered with five straight points. Jio Jalalon’s answered with his own 5-0 run that kept Star alive.
Rice then came to the rescue. He scored two tough layups for four consecutive points to push TNT’s lead, 102-96.
Lee drained another triple to keep Star within three points. But the former NBA player nailed two free throws on the other end to ice the TNT victory.
Debuting import Kristofer Cox tallied 18 points and 18 rebounds in his first game in the PBA. The Hotshots (5-4) however took a step back in its twice-to-beat aspirations, sliding to a share of the sixth spot.
TNT 104 – Rice Jr. 43, Castro 12, Pogoy 12, Rosario 12, Williams 8, Semerad 7, Reyes 6, Tautuaa 4, Lingganay 0, Carey 0.
STAR 99 – Acox 18, Lee 17, Sangalang 17, Jalalon 13, Ramos 11, Pingris 8, Reavis 6, Dela Rosa 4, Barroca 3, Melton 2, Simon 0, Gamalinda 0.
Quarters: 27-22, 51-45, 89-75, 104-99 .