WHAT was supposed to be a titanic clash turned into a sleeper when TNT manhandled San Miguel Beer, 107-88, Friday in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart 5G-powered Angeles University Foundation Sports Arena.
Poy Erram turned in a career game while Rayray Parks and Troy Rosario led those who provided ample help as the Tropang Giga wrested full control of the game early and then kept the Beermen rocking on their heels the rest of the way.
As a result of its most lopsided win yet in the bubble, TNT assumed solo leadership with an unblemished 3-0 slate while dealing SMB its second straight loss that relegated it to a 1-2 slate overall.
Also boosted no end was the Tropang Giga's stock after their most lopsided win yet and through a sound beating of their long-time league and corporate rival.
No wonder winning coach Bong Ravena was pleased. "We're just happy about our performance," he said.
"Sinasamantala lang siguro namin 'yung opponent because I think hindi pa sila fine-tuned," added Ravena. "I know how they play and we know they're gonna come out (strong) and we're just lucky we pulled through."
A combination of poor decisions, bad luck and spotty effort helped do SMB in and negated the efforts of five Beermen who finished in double figures led by Alex Cabagnot's 15.
Mo Tautuua, averaging 18.5 and 11 rebounds a game, was hardly a factor this time around. The Fil-Tongan scored the game's first twinner off a jumper, but committed three fouls not even three minutes in. He returned in the second period and promptly picked up his fourth off another offensive foul, eventually finishing with just nine points, five boards and six turnovers.
Additional woes for the Beermen came when Chris Ross twisted his right knee after Parks landed on his foot, 8:56 to go in the second quarter that hobbled his movement the rest of the way.
Terrence Romeo also hurt his right shoulder and taken to the hospital following a collision with Ryan Reyes, just four minutes later.
TNT did not escape bad luck itself as Roger Pogoy, who scored a tournament-best 45 points in an opening win over Alaska, twisted his left ankle just 28 seconds into the fourth canto and had to finish the game on the bench.
The loss of Pogoy hardly mattered as Erram highlighted his breakout game for TNT with a career-high 27 points and 15 rebounds for his first double-double of the tourney while Parks added 22 and 6. Rosario added 16 and 8 and Jayson Castro quietly had 11 points and 11 assists.
Long before that incident Romeo was the only consistent scorer for SMB with 11 markers. But with Parks and Pogoy pouring 10 points each right in the opening quarter TNT was able to post as much as a 24-10 lead.
There was hardly any let-up for the Tropang Giga after that with Erram even joining the fray for nine second quarter points capped by a corner 3 that made it 57-38 at the half.
The Beermen would come no closer than seven poins the rest of the way. (NC)
TNT 107 - Erram 27, Parks 22, Rosario 6, Pogoy 15, Castro 11, Enciso 10, Reyes 3, Flores 3, Carey 0, De Leon 0, Alejanro 0, Semerad 0, Montalbo 0, Vosotros 0, Washington 0.
SMB 88 - Cabagnot 15, Lassiter 14, Ross 13, Romeo 11, Santos 11, Tautuaa 9, Zamar 5, Pessumal 3, Mamaril 2, Gamalinda 2, Escoto 2, De Guzman 1, Alolino 0, Vigil 0, Comboy 0.
Quarters: 30-18, 57-38, 92-70, 107-88