TNT is hard-pressed to win its game against Seoul SK Knights on Friday to stay in the running for a berth in the playoff round of the East Asia Super League (EASL) Champions Week in Utsunomiya, Japan.
The Tropang Giga’s backs are now against the wall following a 33-point beating they suffered against reigning B. League champion Utsunomiya Brex, 99-66, on opening night Wednesday at the Nikkan Arena.
A telling 32-8 run by the Brex in the second period buried the Tropang Giga for good, sending them reeling at the bottom of Group B, where they are also joined by PBA Commissioner’s Cup runner-up Bay Area Dragons.
The Dragons and Knights face each other in their tournament debut Thursday which is being played as of press time. Shortly following the game is the San Miguel Beer-Ryukyu Golden Kings tussle.
The TNT-Seoul match meanwhile, is set 4 p.m. (Manila time) on Friday, with a loss totally eliminating the Tropang Giga.
Import Jalen Hudson was the only player to finish in double figures for TNT with 28 points as the rest of the team struggled to make their shots.
“It wasn’t a beautiful game from us. Hats off to the home team. They played really well,” said TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa, whose team trailed by as many as 34 points.
Until that second quarter meltdown, TNT was still in the game and held a 27-26 lead.
Daniel Ochefu, the other Tropang Giga import, added nine, while Calvin Oftana was the best local scorer with eight.
Utsunomiya imports Josh Scott and Grant Jerrett topscored for the home team with 24 and 20 points, respectively, while combining for 27 rebounds.
The Brex will play the Dragons on Friday to cap their group stage campaign.
Utsunomiya Brex (99)—Scott 24, Grant 20, Endo 17, Ikaruga 11, Heijima 9, Yang 8, Takeuchi 5, Takashima 3, Kitagawa 2, Kasai 0, Araya 0, Watanabe 0.
TNT (66)—Hudson 28, Ochefu 9, Oftana 8, Castro 7, M. Williams 5, Pogoy 5, Chua 3, Khobuntin 1, Varilla 0, K. Willliams 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Quarterscores: 25-26; 57-34; 79-55; 99-66.