TNT KaTropa withstood a tough challenge from Rain or Shine as it eked out a 118-114 victory on Friday night to catch the last bus to the semifinals of the PBA Governors’ Cup.
Glen Rice Jr. scored the putback layup off a wide three-point attempt by Jayson Castro that put the Texters up for good, capping another all-around effort that saw him falling short of a triple-double with 34 points, 16 boards, and nine assists, on top of two steals, and two blocks in 40 minutes.
Jayson Castro, for his part, facilitated the offense with aplomb to lead the locals in the sudden death of their quarterfinals matchup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum as the Texters thus set up a semifinal duel against defending champion Barangay Ginebra starting on Monday night also at the Big Dome.
“Hard-fought victory,” TNT coach Nash Racela said. “But we knew all along this series that we’re going to have a hard time against them. “Its just so happened that we came out the better team today.”
“Breaks of the game favored us,” he added. “We made the necessary stops.”
The Texters, indeed, had to endure anxious all throughout the nip-and-tuck battle that saw 16 lead changes and 16 deadlocks against an Elasto Painters team that dragged their twice-to-beat opponents to a deciding game following a 106-102 win last Wednesday.
TNT looked like it finally had some breathing room as Rice knocked down a long three-pointer that gave a them a two-possession 112-108 lead with a little over two minutes left.
But the E-Painters kept it interesting as Beau Belga scored on a putback, then dished out to Jericho Cruz on a give-and-go for a wide-open layup, before J’Nathan Bullock drained two charities to suddenly take the lead, 114-112, with 46.4 seconds left.
Bullock, however, negated his last contribution by committing a foul on Castro, who buried two free throws of his own to knot the count one last time, before Rice put back Castro’s three-point attempt that went a bit wide left.
It was double whammy for Bullock, who threw a bad pass that Belga had a tough time to corral, leading to turnover and a foul that translated into two free throws that sealed the win.
Roger Pogoy and Troy Rosario connected from long distance, while Kelly Williams continued to flash his rejuvenated form for the Texters.
Notwithstanding his two miscues, Bullock still finished with 30 points, three boards, and three assists, while Belga added 18 points, 10 boards, and one block that went for naught.
TNT 118 – Rice Jr. 34, Castro 20, Rosario 18, Pogoy 16, Williams 10, Semerad 8, Reyes 5, Carey 4, Tautuaa 3, Nuyles 0
ROS 114 – Bullock 30, Belga 18, Borboran 15, Norwood 14, Cruz 11, Tiu 10, Ahanmisi 7, Trollano 5, Almazan 4, Ponferada 0
Quarterscores: 27-27, 59-59, 85-86, 118-114