TNT coach Chot Reyes' worst fears almost came true when his Tropang Giga showed shaky form in the endgame against Terrafirma in their PBA Philippine Cup debut at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig.
Good thing TNT has erected enough of a cushion that enabled the Tropa to win 86-79 and Reyes to heave a big sigh of relief.
"We've just taken our first step as a team today. Kami, we're really (starting) from scratch," said the five-time Coach of the Year calling the shots for TNT for the first time since 2012.
"This is really our first experience, coming together to play as a team," added Reyes. "So the little things, amuyan, chemistry, kindatan sa loob, parang malayo pa kami roon. We still have a lot to learn."
The presence of Jayson Castro, Ryan Reyes and Kelly Williams, all holdovers from Reyes' days with the former Tropang Texters helped, as well as second year center JP Erram, who mainly delivered the points that kept the Dyip at bay in the stretch for 15 points and 11 rebounds.
Castro came off the bench to score a team-high 17 points, while Troy Rosario had his own double-double of 14 markers and 11 boards. Roger Pogoy was the only other TNT player in double digits with 10.
Aldrech Ramos' 17 points paced Terrafirma, which looked like it has no intention of relinquishing its whipping dog-tag after falling behind by as much as 48-66 in the third period.
But the Dyip sprang a surprise when they came charging back, rallying behind Philip Cahilig, Rashawn McCarthy and Juami Tiongson to close in at 79-84, still 2:10 left in the game.
Terrafirma would come no closer, but the Dyip's refusal to go down without a fight drew praise from Reyes himself.
"I thought Terrafirma did a good job in beating us in the effort department, especially in that fourth quarter," said Reyes. (NC)
TNT 86 - Castro 17, Erram 15, Rosario 14, Pogoy 10, Marcelo 9, Williams 7, Khobuntin 6, Reyes 5, Montalbo 3, Exciminiano 0, Heruela 0, Alejandro 0, Washington 0, Javier 0, Mendoza 0.
Terrafirma 79 - Ramos 17, McCarthy 13, Cahilig 12, Tiongson 10, Adams 7, Laput 6, Munzon 6, Alolino 2, Gabayni 2, Rosser 2, Balagasay 2, Calvo 0, Camson 0, Batiller 0, Celda 0.
Quarters: 17-20, 45-33, 71-59, 86-79