by Jonas Terrado
Terrence Jones is unperturbed with the slew of import changes in the last few weeks as top seed TNT KaTropa enters the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs with a target on its back.
“I’m not really worried about that,” Jones said after posting 26 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and five blocks in Wednesday’s 98-83 win over Magnolia at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“I can only worry about what our team does and that’s just preparing each game like we do,” he added.
Terrence Jones of TnT KaTropa goes up for a shot against Ian Sangalang of Magnolia (PBA Images)
Jones is so good as evident with his averages of 33.7 points, 16.1 rebounds, 7.7 assists, 1.6 steals and 3.1 blocks that other teams were forced to replace their imports during the course of the tourney.
San Miguel had to let go of Charles Rhodes for Chris McCullough, who has proven himself to be a fine addition despite being the team’s relegation to seventh spot and a twice-to-beat advantage against No. 2-ranked NorthPort in the playoffs.
Blackwater, the third seed, brought back Jones’ former Rockets teammate Greg Smith after an injury to Staphon Blair even as Rain or Shine tapped Carl Montgomery due to a knee problem sustained by Denzel Bowles.
TNT’s potential quarterfinal foes Meralco and Alaska also made changes, with the Bolts signing Delroy James and Aces calling old reliable Diamon Simpson.
There’s also Magnolia which sent home James Farr for ex-Indiana Pacer Rakeem Christmas, who probably has something more in store after an eight-point, 14-rebound showing against TNT.
Behind Jones, TNT posted a 10-1 record to gain the top seed for the first time since the 2016 Governors’ Cup.
Jones tried to downplay his big part in the KaTropa’s success, stressing the collective effort between him and the locals since the conference began.
“I think (the reason for our success is) the way we play as a team when it comes to moving the ball and how we play defensively that help us create better offense,” Jones said.
TNT will face the winner of the Alaska-Meralco playoff on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum armed with a twice-to-beat advantage. The KaTropa last made the semis in the 2017 Governors’ Cup.
Tags: Charles Rhodes , Chris McCullough , Denzel Bowles , Diamon Simpson , James Farr , Magnolia , PBA , Rain or Shine , Rakeem Christmas , Terrence Jones , TNT Katropa