SUPER rookie Mikey Williams and Kib Montalbo played their best game thus far as TNT Tropang Giga earned the No. 1 seed—with a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals to boot—following a 102-92 victory over NorthPort in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Williams buried 19 of his 29 points and Montalbo scattered 17 of his career-high 22 points in the second half when the Tropang Giga blasted away at the Batang Pier for their league-best 9-1 won-lost record.
Williams, this year’s fourth overall pick, and the 2019 11th pick Montalbo put on a show in the third period as they transformed a 42-41 halftime cushion to a 76-64 cushion entering the last quarter.
TNT never relinquished control of the game after that.
“We didn’t come out as good as we should be and we came out real flat…so they [Northport] just really punched us to the mouth,” Williams said. “From there [in the second half], we solved the problem to finally get it done.
Williams went 10-of-19 from the field he highlighted with five triples and laced with five assists.
After Kevin Ferrer’s triple that narrowed the gap to 71-76 with 9:22 left, TNT answered with a triple each from Kelly Williams and Ryan Reyes to extend their lead to 82-71 with 8:23 to go. Williams drove for a 94-80 advantage with still 4:32 left.
The Batang Pier, who missed Sean Anthony (bone spurs) and 7-foot Greg Slaughter (bacterial skin infection), couldn’t solve TNT’s second-half onslaught and failed to give Head Coach Pido Jarencio a fitting welcome after recovering from Covid-19 infection.
Troy Rosario added 18 points, while Kelly Williams racked up 11 points and Jayson Castro had nine for TNT.
Paolo Taha made 20 points to lead NorthPort, while Robert Bolick posted 12 points and 11 assists but shot an atrocious 3-of-16 from the field—1-of-10 from beyond the arc.
The Batang Pier’s three-game winning streak came to a halt and dropped to a 4-4 record.