TNT coach Bong Ravena looked at the other end of the court and saw a lot of familiar faces.
“There’s just too much familiarity going on,” he said.
The Tropang Giga unveiled a familiar form, too, flashing their depth and firepower in a 109-96 rout of Blackwater on Thursday at Angeles University Foundation to remain unbeaten in the PBA Philippine Cup.
“You really can’t underestimate [Blackwater coach] Nash [Racela]. He’s so organized; he knows our plays,” Ravena told reporters, shortly after the victory that gave them a 5-0 start in the tournament.
“And most of their players came from us,” he added. “They have a decent standing and they were coming from a loss. So we really couldn’t afford to relax.”
The Tropang Giga threw the full weight of its arsenal at Blackwater and Racela, TNT’s coach before Ravena, despite the absence of top playmaker Jayson Castro (calf strain).
Roger Pogoy had 20 points to lead TNT while Ray Parks Jr. tossed in 18 more. Troy Rosario assembled another silent double-double of 17 and 12 rebounds. Simon Enciso had 16 points starting in Castro’s place. Poy Erram, who hurt his ankle mid-game, finished with 14 points and five rebounds.
Enciso had no problems handling Castro’s chores as he and Erram helped TNT set the tone early. Enciso nailed back-to-back triples, including one to end quarter, as TNT jumped to a 34-25 lead after one period. The Tropang Giga stretched that lead to 12 at the half and were never threatened in the match.
Don Trollano, who once played for TNT, carried the load for Blackwater (2-3) by putting up 23 points and seven rebounds.
Mac Belo added 16 points, while Mike Tolomia had 12 for the Elite, who were also coming off another round of swab tests.Blackwater and Alaska played in the game officiated by the referee who tested positive for the coronavirus. The referee has been shuttled out of the bubble and put in quarantine at New Clark City.
Officials suspect that the referee had a “false positive,” but commissioner Willie Marcial is not taking any chances.
In a virtual press conference, Marcial told the players and everyone residing in the PBA bubble to remain vigilant and follow health protocols strictly.
“I tell the players, the staff, referees and table officials that this was a wake-up call for us,” Marcial said in Filipino. “We shouldn’t be too relaxed.”
“Yes we’re in a bubble, but it is what it is. We have to follow the protocols.”
Marcial has also sent for two to three more referees from Manila to bolster the officials’ pool. Several referees were also quarantined after they were identified as having come in contact with the official who tested positive.
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