THE 2020 PBA Philippine Cup being played in an NBA-style bubble in Pampanga is sure to make the record books.
Last night, Roger Pogoy took the time to make it more memorable with a sterling performance that powered TNT to a 100-95 victory over Alaska at the Angeles University Foundation gym in Angeles City.
Pogoy scored a new career-high 45 points in the last three quarters, enabling the Tropang Giga to snap out of their listless start and overcome an Aces crew that blew their chance by committing two costly lapses in the last 50 seconds.
Jayson Castro did his part, turning Rob Herndon’s passing error and Jayvee Casio’s ballhandling miscue into a drive and two charities for the final count en route to 28 points and the final count.
The victory pushed TNT into the company of defending champion San Miguel Beer, which won over Magnolia on opening day March 8, three days before the COVID outbreak forced the league to shut down.
TNT coach Bong Ravena was simply glad his team managed to pass its first test despite staring at an early 17-point deficit and JP Erram getting ejected with still a full quarter to go.
“We were lucky to win. It could have been Alaska’s game,” said Ravena. “We’re just lucky we survived this game.”
Abu Tratter had 17 points, Mike Digregorio and Herndon added 16 each and Vic Manuel 15 for Alaska.
Tratter’s putback pushed Alaska within 95-96 and the Aces had the chance to regain the lead following a Herndon steal.
But after an Alaska huddle, Herndon committed an inbounding error, followed seconds later by Casio losing the handle after dribbling into traffic.
All those helped preserve Pogoy’s heroics that included eight rebounds and a 10-for-17 three-point shooting.
Those triples made Pogoy the first TNT player in franchse history to have three games with at least eight 3s and only the fifth overall in PBA history after Allan Caidic, Renren Ritualo, Marcio Lassiter and Terrence Romeo.
TNT last played Dec. 23 while Alaska last played Nov. 24. But it was the former which showed more rust
The Tropang Giga made only four of their first 13 tries from the field while the Aces made 10 of their first 15 shots, including 4-of-4 from deep, to race to a 32-15 spread.
Alaska could not sustain such torrid shooting, however, and Pogoy started catching fire by scattering all 21 of his first half points in the second quarter that helped knot the count at 48-all.