TNT Katropa tries to extend its winning run to three games when it battles sister team Meralco on Friday in the 2017 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Katropa and Bolts clash at 7 p.m., right after the opening tussle between Blackwater and Rain or Shine, two teams that are coming off a loss, at 4:15 p.m.
After losing its opening game, TNT Katropa won back-to-back games, the last a 99-92 victory over the Elite, to give Nash Racela a good start in his PBA debut. Racela sat out the team’s first two games to finish his commitment with Far Eastern University in the University Athletic Association of the Philippines.
In his first game, Racela met his former player, Mac Belo, in their seven-point win against the Elite, whose two-game winning run was snapped by the Katropa.
“We need to come out every time with right things in mind, intensity-wise, energy-wise and pride-wise,” Racela said. “Not the prettiest game for us, but this will serve as a learning experience for us.”
Last year’s top rookie pick Moala Tautuaa and Jayson Castro each had 20 points to lead Katropa’s second straight victory.
They will face the recharged Bolts, who are also fresh from a 106-93 victory over sister team NLEX, to bounce back from a disappointing 88-91 setback to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in their first game.
Last season’s Rookie of the Year Chris Newsome and neophyte Ed Daquiaog combined for 51 points in their 13-point demolition of the Road Warriors.
“We’re happy to get the first win in the All-Filipino and next up is TNT which means it doesn’t get any easier,” Meralco Head Coach Norman Black said.
“We want to continue to build our confidence, making sure what happened last year won’t happen again,” added Black, referring to their 1-11 campaign last year in the Philippine Cup.
In the opener, Blackwater tries to get back on the winning track against the Elasto Painters, who also saw their two-game winning streak snapped by the Kings, 74-81.
The Elite, Rain or Shine and TNT Katropa are in a six-team logjam for the top with a 2-1 win-loss card each along with Phoenix, San Miguel Beer and GlobalPort.