MANILA – TNT KaTropa clinched the No. 1 spot at the close of the 2019 Honda PBA Commissioner’s Cup eliminations after a 98-83 victory over Magnolia Hotshots last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Terrence Jones fell short of a triple-double with 26 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists.
Roger Pogoy added 20 markers while Brian Heruela and Jayson Castro had 13 markers each.
Holding to a slim 20-19 lead after the first 12 minutes, the KaTropa slowly created distance from the Hotshots in the second period behind Jones and Pogoy for a 45-37 lead at the half.
The KaTropa pulled away for good in the second half with Pogoy and Jones continuing their offense and Castro and Heruela making their contributions as the lead went up to as high as 21 points.
As it stood, the KaTropa ended the eliminations on top with a 10-1 win-loss slate and a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals against the winner of the Alaska Aces-Meralco Bolts knockout game for the eighth spot.
For the Hotshots, they ended the eliminations on the No. 5 spot with 5-6 win-loss slate and will battle defending champions Barangay Ginebra San Miguel Kings in the best-of-three quarterfinals.
Also getting a lift from KaTropa’s victory was Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, which moved up to the No. 6 spot and will battle No. 3 seed Blackwater Elite in the other best-of-three quarters series.
The Bolts, meanwhile, kept its quarterfinals hope alive with a 95-91 win over the San Miguel Beermen behind the back-to-back baskets by Delroy James in the final minute of the match to break the 91-all deadlock.
James finished the match with 34 points, six assists, five rebounds, four steals and three blocks while Chris Newsome and Raymond Almazan added 20 and 15 markers, respectively, for the Bolts.
The victory improves the Bolts’ win-loss slate to 4-7 setting them up for a knockout game against the Aces for the eighth and last quarterfinals seat on Friday evening. Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters (4-7) were booted out from contention.The defeat to the Bolts and the loss of the Hotshots, however, proved to be costly for the Philippine Cup champions Beermen as they slid to No. 7 and will have twice-to-win disadvantage over No. 2 ranked NorthPort Batang Pier./PN