MANILA — The Alaska Aces and Magnolia Hotshots suffered contrasting losses to start their campaign in the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Sunday.
The Rain Or Shine Elasto Painters gave the Aces a rude greeting in their return to play, with an 85-72 blowout in the first game.
The TNT KaTropa, on the other hand, stifled the Hotshots in overtime period and hacked out an 80-75 win in the second game.
ROS pulled away in the final six-and-a-half minutes of the first quarter, ending the period with a 13-2 run to break a 12-all tie en route to the rout.
Rey Nambatac put up 12 points and two rebounds to lead the E-Painters, who moved up to 4-1, a half-game behind the still unbeaten Phoenix Fuel Masters at the top of the standings.
Beau Belga added 11 markers, six boards, five dimes, and one block, while Raymond Almazan contributed 10 points, four caroms, three blocks, and one steal off the bench.
Fresh from a monster game two nights back in Antipolo, Javee Mocon had a quiet five markers, but he also had 11 caroms, three assists, and one block.
Maverick Ahanmisi, on the other hand, grabbed 14 rebounds with eight points, five assists, and four steals.
After coming alive in their first assignments, James Yap struggled offensively, only making three of 14 field goals for nine points with one rebound and two assists, but it hardly mattered in the blowout.
Despite the low-scoring win, they had a balanced offense all throughout with all but one player who Coach Caloy Garcia fielded in scoring at least three points.
Jeron Teng made 15 points, six rebounds, three assists, and one steal for the Aces, but he only made 5-of-18 from the field.
MJ Ayaay made six points, all coming off two triples, and two rebounds off the bench in his PBA debut.
G-Boy Babilonia, on the other hand, struggled in form in his four-minute playing time with two fouls as his lone stat.
Overall, they only made 29 percent of their shots including a dismal 28 percent clip from two-point range.
Meanwhile, despite Magnolia leading for majority of the low-scoring and tight contest, TNT got its form just when the team needed it the most.
Down four, 57-61, with 7:18 left in regulation, the KaTropa went on an 8-0 run, the last five points coming from Jayson Castro, to go up, 65-61, with 5:48 remaining.
A triple from Robbie Herndon cut the lead down to one, 65-64, with 4:57 to play in the fourth, triggering the wild regulation finish.
Eventually, Rafi Reavis gave the Hotshots their last taste of the lead at 71-70 after a jumper with 1:25 to play in the fourth.
But Jio Jalalon missed out on giving them a larger breathing room as he only made a split from the free throw line for a precarious 72-70 cushion with 10 seconds left in regulation.
Castro then found Troy Rosario underneath for the one-hander to tie the game up at 72 apiece with 1.7 seconds remaining.
Kelly Williams then forced overtime after he picked Rome dela Rosa’s inbound pass.
After two free throws from Castro were cancelled by a Reavis field goal to start the additional five minutes, RR Pogoy took over, scoring five straight points to give TNT the lead for good.
Pogoy finished with 26 points with eight rebounds and one assist for the Bong Ravena and Mark Dickel-mentored KaTropa, who moved up to .500 at 3-3, virtually tying the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel for fourth place. The KaTropa own the said position due to the number of wins.
Castro, on the other hand, put up 24 markers, five rebounds, four dimes, one steal, and two blocks.
Herndon made 16 points on 6-of-8 shooting with eight rebounds and one steal for the Hotshots.
Ian Sangalang also flirted with a double-double after making 15 markers and nine caroms with two blocks.
Jio Jalalon even came close to a triple-double, putting up 12 points, eight rebounds, and eight dimes with two steals.
Mike Calisaan made just two points and one rebound in nearly four minutes of play in his PBA debut.
TNT won despite only making 33 percent of its field goals and the starters scoring all but two points as the team forced Magnolia to 20 turnovers, 10 off steals, and made six blocks in total. (PNA)