Dodging an upset

KJ McDaniels TNT


ANTIPOLO—TNT held off tough-as-nails Columbian, 125-120, to vault out front in the PBA Governors’ Cup eliminations on Saturday night at Ynares Center here—a narrow victory that raised concerns more than spirits.

“We barely survived. Columbian played really well,” said KaTropa coach Bong Ravena, who was visibly bothered by how many points they allowed their foes to score.

“Yes, we’re happy [with the victory]. But our concern now is our defense—which we haven’t been doing good [so far],” he added.

Import KJ McDaniels had 29 points to lead all TNT shooters, while Roger Pogoy had 27 and Jayson Castro 25 in the KaTropa’s fourth straight win.

But what bothers Ravena and the rest of the TNT brain trust is that they allowed three players to almost beat them.

Import Khapri Alston fired 38 points, while Rashawn McCarthy and CJ Perez tossed in 26 and 23, respectively for Columbian, which dropped to 2-2.

“We can’t afford to let that happen in future games. We have tougher teams coming up,” said Ravena, whose squad faces the perennial contenders in the latter part of their elimination round campaign.

Coach Aris Dimaunahan got his Blackwater crew to hold it together earlier, as the Elite clipped NorthPort, 107-98, for their first win in the season-closing conference.

“From being beaten by 30 by TNT, we got beaten by six by NLEX, the challenge was to get a win,” Dimaunahan said.

Blackwater drew 13 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists from import Marqus Blakely and twin digits from four locals, led by the 21 of Ray Parks as the Elite improved to 1-2.

“That’s the old Blakely we know: protecting the rim, hustling, defending and giving out assists,” Dimaunahan said of his import. “He’s like ‘Mr. All-Around.’”

“I think I’m just a little bit more comfortable in the system, knowing what my teammates need out of me,” said Blakely.

Meanwhile, San Miguel Beer notched a third straight win after scoring a 98-94 nipping of NLEX in Dubai on Saturday.

Dez Wells scored 32 points and Alex Cabagnot had 20 for San Miguel.

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