PBA Saturday: TNT’s Defense Tests Bolick and Batang Pier

Robert Bolick’s brilliance will be tested when the NorthPort Batang Pier clash with the TNT Tropang Giga, while the NLEX Road Warriors try to keep their win-loss slate clean as they battle the Phoenix Super LPG in the 2022 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Saturday double-header.

Photo from PBA Images

PBA Games Today (October 8, 2022)

Venue: PhilSports Arena

First Game: NLEX Road Warriors versus Phoenix Super LPG (4:30 PM)

Second Game: TNT Tropang Giga versus NorthPort Batang Pier (6:45 PM)

Clark, Road Warriors Go For 3rd Straight

NLEX Road WarriorsPhoenix Super LPG
Offensive Rating104.0 (6th)88.2 (13th)
Defensive Rating99.4 (5th)96.5 (3rd)
Pace80.5 (5th)83.5 (1st)
Standing2-0 (2nd)0-3 (13th)
*Stats per RealGM (as of 10/07/2022)

Previous Games: NLEX won against the Blackwater Bossing, 105-102; Phoenix lost to Bay Area Dragons, 101-91

In his first two games in the PBA, Earl Clark has been a force to reckon with on both ends of the floor. He is averaging 32.0 points on 54% shooting from the field, while also tallying 2.5 steals and 4.5 blocks. With Clark at the front, NLEX just might exceed everyone’s expectations this conference. Kevin Alas and Don Trollano are doing their usual damage on offense, and also look out for Matt Nieto. Having earned more playing time, Nieto has been impactful, ranking in the Top 5 in steals (2.5) while also norming 11.0 points and 3.5 assists.

For the Phoenix side, their listless 0-3 start is heightened by a lethargic, error-prone offense. Taking care of the ball has been an issue (league-worst 22.3 turnovers), and the production of import Kaleb Wesson (19.4 points on 48.7% True Shooting) isn’t up to par with his counterparts. Phoenix’s silver lining so far is the performance of Javee Mocon, who is finally showing how he can be the go-to guy for this team.

Heading into a PBA Saturday matchup against the Road Warriors, it could be a question of where else in their roster can the Fuel Masters expect more offensive contributions.

TNT defense Face Red-hot bolick

TNT Tropang GigaNorthPort Batang Pier
Offensive Rating95.3 (11th)103.0 (7th)
Defensive Rating97.3 (4th)100.2 (6th)
Pace80.5 (6th)77.4 (10th)
Standing0-1 (9th)2-1 (5th)
*Stats per RealGM (as of 10/07/2022)

Previous Games: TNT lost to the Magnolia Hotshots, 94-92; NorthPort won against the Meralco Bolts, 101-95

Despite playing without a handful of their key cogs, the Tropang Giga still managed to keep the game close before losing a two-point game to the Hotshots. They even had a double-digit after the first half, thanks to their defense and of course, the exploits of import Cameron Oliver, who finished with 43 points built on seven makes from deep. Their missing key players will slowly return to the fold, with Poy Erram coming back after serving his one-game suspension. Jayson Castro could be out for a couple of weeks more, but TNT is hoping that Mikey Williams could play against NorthPort.

With Oliver leading their charge on offense, all eyes will be on how the Tropang Giga will defend Batang Pier star Robert Bolick. It has been a fiery start to the conference for Bolick, as he is averaging 32.7 points, including a 44-point outburst during the last timeout. But Bolick isn’t just a one-trick pony — his playmaking chops, alongside his knack for getting buckets everywhere, effectively keep his defenders guessing.

Ryan Reyes and Glenn Khobuntin didn’t play in their first game, so there’s a chance that they might miss this NorthPort match. Without two of their good individual defenders, could we see TNT’s lengthy wings like Matt Ganuelas-Rosser or Calvin Oftana drawing the Bolick assignment? Kib Montalbo might have that task early on, but it’s interesting to see how Ganuelas-Rosser or Oftana can delay or initially make things a tad difficult for Bolick.

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