TROY Rosario and KJ McDaniels hit crucial shots in the final quarter as TNT defeated Meralco, 101-97, on Thursday to take a 2-1 lead in the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Rosario scored 25 points while McDaniels shook off a slow start and finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds in a close game that followed two series blowouts.
Rosario knocked down a crucial three-pointer late while McDaniels scored on a follow-up that gave the KaTropa a three-point lead, 100-97, in the final minute.
TNT guns for a place in the best-of-seven finals set to start on January 8 in Game Four on Saturday at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.
Rosario, named the Best Player of the Game by the TV panel, broke a 91-91 deadlock with a corner three with 3:28 that brought momentum back to the KaTropa.
Jayson Castro had 17 points including a jumper with 1:40 left that gave the lead bact to TNT, 98-97, before McDaniels came flying out of nowhere to put back a Castro miss, 100-97, with 35.9 seconds left.
The loss spoiled a gallant effort by Allen Durham, who had 32 points and 19 rebounds but committed a booboo late in Game Three.
With Meralco down three, Durham turned the ball over when he passed the ball to Cliff Hodge, who was standing in front of the Meralco bench.
“We are just happy especially on defense, way, way better than our last game. Plus our locals stepped up,” said TNT coach Bong Ravena.
With McDaniels held to just two points in the first half, TNT overcame an early 42-29 deficit with Rosario leading the comeback early in the third and Ryan Reyes hitting back-to-back threes for a 66-64 lead.
Once he heated up, McDaniels hit a three to put the KaTropa up by 11 points, 82-71.
TNT 101 – Rosario 25, McDaniels 18, Castro 17, Pogoy 15, Parks 12, Reyes 9, De Leon 5, DiGregorio 0, Williams 0, Vosotros 0.
Meralco 97 – Durham 32, Newsome 20, Amer 19, Quinto 8, Pinto 5, Caram 4, Almazan 4, Hodge 3, Maliksi 2, Faundo 0.
Quarters: 23-29; 42-51; 77-71; 101-97.