TNT Ka Tropa 136
Phoenix Petroleum Fuel Masters 124

Castro erupts for 42 as TNT returns to semis


ANTIPOLO – In just 27 minutes of action, Jason Castro torched Phoenix Petroleum with a career second-best 42 points and propelled TNT KaTropa back to the PBA Final Four for the first time since their 2015 Commissioner’s Cup title run.

Castro churned out his most explosive performance since a 44-point game last season and the Texters overwhelmed the Fuel Masters, 136-124, to gain the last berth in the PBA Governors Cup semifinals.

The reigning FIBA Asia Best Point Guard scored almost at will, firing away five triples, nine twinners and nine charities in a mammoth game carrying TNT to a best-of-five semis duel with sister team Meralco.

The Texters and the Bolts start their showdown at 7 p.m. Tuesday over at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Ryan Reyes, Ranidel de Ocampo, Michael Madanly, Larry Fonacier and Kelly Williams also came out with their guns ablaze, helping the team send former TNT assistant coach Ariel Vanguardia and his Phoenix troops down on their knees.

TNT joined Meralco, San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra in a grand ball among top seeds in the Final Four while Phoenix became the eighth casualty after Blackwater, Star, Globalport, Rain or Shine, NLEX, Alaska and Mahindra.

“We’re enjoying this win in just a few minutes then we prepare for the next game,” said TNT coach Jong Uichico moments after their quarters victory. “We just moved to the next round. That’s what happened tonight.”

Somehow, Uichico’s preparation for the semis started as soon as he rested Castro with over six minutes left in their conquest of Phoenix.

Had Uichico not decided enough is enough, Castro could’ve easily surpassed his career-best 44-point output made last season.

“Jason’s getting to be an all-around player. And another thing going for Jason is that’s he’s not too concerned about personal stats. Basta manalo ang team, masaya siya,” said Uichico.

“Focus sya to win this game and go on to the next round,” Uichico added of his top gun who exploded for 29 points just in the first half of this quarters setto.

The Fuel Masters competed in the first half, trailing by just three, 67-70, in a high-scoring duel with Eugene Phelps and Cyrus Baguio leading the way with 20 and 10, respectively.

Phoenix, however, faded away as no one just couldn’t stop Castro.

Curiously, the Texters smothered the Fuel Masters despite a mere seven-point game from Mychal Ammons.

The TNT import joined the scoring column with already 31 minutes into the game on a jam from an assist by Castro.

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