(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4 p.m. — Terrafirma vs TNT
8 p.m. — NorthPort vs NLEX
An inspired Terrafirma squad shoots for its third straight win when it battles TNT Tropang Giga in the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game time is set at 4 p.m. with the Dyip looking to sustain their fiery run with Belgian import Thomas de Thaey at the helm for a chance to gain the solo second spot in the early stretch of this season-opening conference.
Also looking for its third win is NorthPort, which collides with NLEX in the 8 p.m. featured encounter.
De Thaey, a 32-year-old former North Carolina State star, had posted only 19.3 points per game, the least offensive output among imports, but is practically doing everything on both ends while blending well with the local players of Terrafirma.
The triumvirate of Juan Gomez de Liaño, Juami Tiongson and top overall rookie pick Stephen Holt had been providing a balanced production, keeping the Dyip rolling despite the limited offensive output from their reinforcement.
In fact, Gomez de Liaño had a breakout performance last time around, finishing with 31 points, including four three-point shots, to go along with five rebounds. He was the latest Dyip to hit the 30-point plus performance after Riel Cervantes, CJ Perez, Roosevelt Adams and Jeremy King.
Tiongson, a former Most Improved Player of the Year winner, has been getting the help he’s been lacking the previous season, but he himself continued to be a solid force in offense, averaging 20 points per game. Holt, who had his share of struggles in the early goings, had his most productive game in the Dyip’s 113-112 win over NLEX. Down the stretch, he hit five straight points as the Dyip held off the Road Warriors and ended up with 21 markers on top of six rebounds and six assists.
“I just have to commend the work ethics of the players,” Terrafirma coach Johnedel Cardel said.
“We practice every day and I’ve noticed the changes in the team. Even in the scrimmages, they were competing in highly-physical games, except that there were no fistfights.”
“But that’s the quality of the game in the PBA. If we can continue doing that, we have a chance of competing against big teams like TNT, San Miguel and Ginebra.”
The Dyip will face a big test against the Tropang Giga, who are also coming off a 101-98 win over Converge last 11 November.
TNT won despite losing Rondae Hollis-Jefferson in the early part of the second half after getting ejected for committing a Flagrant Foul Penalty 2 after accidentally hitting Mike Nieto on the face with the basketball.
Hollis-Jefferson had learned his lessons and wanted to lead his team to its second straight win.
In the second game, NorthPort takes on a decimated NLEX squad, which will miss the services of ace guard Kevin Alas for the rest of the season.
Alas suffered his third anterior cruciate ligament injury and much will be expected of the guards, particularly Kris Rosales, to step up.
In their only win by the Road Warriors so far, a come-from-behind 117-113 overtime win over San Miguel Beer on 15 November, Rosales hit 19 points, including four three-point shots down the stretch.