GRYANN Mendoza nailed a corner deuce to cap a dramatic comeback by TNT in overtime against Purefoods, 21-19, for the championship of the PBA 3x3 Third Conference grand finals on Sunday.
The TNT shooting guard received the pass from Almond Vosotros who played decoy by drawing Joseph Eriobu and Marvin Hayes on him, before whipping the ball on an open Mendoza, who stepped back and didn’t hesitate to take the winning shot.
“Tinanong ko sila kung anong play namin. And sabi ni Almond kahit anong mangyari, two points tayo,” said Mendoza, recalling what the team talked about at the huddle prior to the extra period.
“Yun lang ang sinunod ko. Ginawa lang namin yung play. Kung sino ang libre, siya ang titira. And nagkataon lang ako yung tumira.”
The victory was worth P750,000 for the Tropang Giga, who appeared given up for dead when they trailed 13-18 inside the final two minutes.
“Sinasabi ko lang kina Samboy, Gryann, and Lervin na hangga’t may oras, don’t give up. Baka kung sakali mabigyan ng liwanag. And that’s exactly what happened,” said Vosotros.
Mendoza topscored with eight points, Vosotros had five and Flores and De Leon four each for the top seeded TNT, which ruled Leg 1, 3, and 4 of the season’s final conference.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Titans, who appeared to have the title tucked under their belts as they still led, 19-15 with 64 seconds left.
But Mendoza drove and scored twice on inside incursions and De Leon banked in two pressure-packed free throws with 32 seconds to play in regulation to tie the game at 19.
The Tropang Giga even had three potential game-winning attempts by De Leon, Vosotros, and Mendoza which they all missed, sending the game into extra period.
Joseph Eriobu and Marvin Hayes each had six points for the Titans, who came home with the P250,000 runner up purse.
“Breaks of the game na lang yun. Pinagkaloob sa kanila ng Panginoon yun kasi deserved din naman nilang manalo,” said Eriobu, who was gracious in defeat, but nonetheless couldn’t hide his disappointment.
“Both teams naman fought hard and both teams naman deserved the championship. Pero isa lang ang dapat manalo.”
It so happened it was TNT.
“Kung napanood ninyo, hindi na kami yun. Si Lord na yun,” said TNT coach Mau Belen. “Hindi koa maipaliwanag, e. Kasi hindi naman namin pinag-handaan yung mga ganung klase ng bagay.
TNT became the third conference champion of the standalone league after Limitless App (first conference) and Pioneer Pro Tibay (second conference).
Sista Super Sealers bucked fatigue after playing five games for the day and scored a thrilling 21-20 come-from-behind win over San Miguel to clinch third place.
Jam Jamon fired back-to-back deuces before Kenneth Mocon clinched it for the Super Sealers with a driving lay up.
The Super Sealers trailed 19-16 before Jamon caught fire late in the game.
Sista bagged the P100,000 prize money for third place as it roared its way to the consolation round after surviving the pool play early on to advance in the knockout stage.
Sista (21) - Mocon 11, Jamon 5, Gabawan 3, Manlangit 3.
San Miguel (20) - Comboy 10, Gamalinda 7, Mangahas 2, Gotladera 1.