TNT KaTropa import Michael Craig debuted in style, notching a triple-double performance to lead his team to a 106-96 win over Kia on Friday in the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Governor’s Cup at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo City.
The 6’5 burly import tallied 21 points, 13 rebounds and 12 assists to power KaTropa to a sizzling opening game victory. Craig, one of the imports who arrived early for the tournament, also listed three blocks in an all-around effort.
“We didn’t really know what to expect on how we will gonna play. We prioritized rest over practice. I know that’s not enough but for sure it will help them,” said TNT head coach Nash Racela, whose team finished runner-up in the previous conference.
“The earlier we could learn to play with each other specifically with our import, the better for us,” he added.
Troy Rosario registered 18 points and 10 rebounds, while veteran Jayson Castro added 16 points, four rebounds, four assists, two steals and a block for TNT. Kelly Williams contributed 11 points also for the KaTropa.
Castro gave KaTropa their biggest lead at 72-55 on a three-point play with 6:24 left in the third period.
But the Picanto countered with a blazing 16-5 salvo capped by Jackson Corpus’ jumper to narrow the gap, 71-77 with 1:57 in that stage.
Rosario hit a three-pointer in the last 8:28 mark to stretch TNT’s lead to 91-76. Kia refused to surrender as import Markeith Cummings scored 14 points in a 20-5 assault to threaten at 91-96 with 3:40 left in the game.
But that was the closest the Picanto could get as the KaTropa responded with their own 10-5 run for a 106-96 cushion with a minute remaining.
Cummings led Kia with 27 points and seven rebounds but committed 10 turnovers. Reden Celda had 14 points for Picanto, whose record dropped to 0-3.