By Jonas Terrado
TNT KaTropa secured the top seed in the quarterfinals after routing Magnolia, 98-83, to conclude the elimination phase of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Import Terrence Jones had 26 points, 13 rebounds, eight assists and five blocks, Roger Pogoy tallied 20 points, five rebounds and five steals and Jayson Castro added 13 points and five assists as the KaTropa ended the elims with a 10-1 record.
Jayson Castro of TnT KaTropa is defended by Mark Barroca of Magnolia (PBA Images)
The KaTropa, carrying a twice-to-beat advantage, will face the winner of Friday’s playoff between the Alaska Aces and Meralco Bolts at the Mall of Asia Arena.
“We want to end the eliminations on a winning note,” said coach Bong Ravena, whose team enters the playoffs with an eight-game winning streak.
“We’re building our consistency so we carry it to the playoffs,” added Ravena.
Magnolia dropped its fourth straight to finish 5-6 for a three-way tie with Rain or Shine and San Miguel Beer, spoiling the debut of new import Rakeem Christmas.
Christmas produced eight points on 2-of-10 shooting with 14 rebounds in his first game as a replacement for James Farr.
But the Hotshots played with nothing at stake as they had already secured the No. 5 seed and a best-of-three duel against Barangay Ginebra after Meralco’s 95-91 win over San Miguel in the first game.
The result allowed Rain or Shine to gain the No. 6 seed and a best-of-three encounter with No. 3 Blackwater while relegating San Miguel to seventh and a twice-to-beat disadvantage opposite second-ranked NorthPort.
Magnolia and Rain or Shine earned spots in the best-of-three due to superior quotients over San Miguel.
Paul Lee scored 23 points and Ian Sangalang added 15 points for the Hotshots in a losing effort.
TNT KATROPA 98 — Jones 26, Pogoy 20, Castro 13, Heruela 13, Magat 8, Reyes 5, Trollano 5, A. Semerad 3, Washington 3, Bono 2, Casino 0, D. Semerad 0, Golla 0, Taha 0.
MAGNOLIA 83 — Lee 23, Simon 16, Sangalang 15, Jalalon 9, Christmas 8, Pingris 6, Barroca 2, Dela Rosa 2, Herndon 2, Ramos 0, Melton 0, Reavis 0, Abundo 0.
Quarters: 20-19; 45-37; 74-59; 98-83.
Tags: Alaska Aces , Barangay Ginebra , Bong Ravena , Ian Sangalang , James Farr , Jayson Castro , PBA , PBA Commissioner’s Cup , Rakeem Christmas , Terrence Jones , TNT Katropa