TNT moved on the doorstep of ending its title drought after bouncing back from a frustrating loss the last time with a 106-89 win over Magnolia Pambansang Manok in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals Wednesday, Oct. 27 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Tropang Giga leaned on a big second quarter anchored by veteran guard Ryan Reyes, whose defense helped turn a tight contest into a blowout victory that gave them a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
It was a performance that looked like a repeat of TNT’s two wins to begin the finals, something that was missing in Game 3 when tensions grew following Troy Rosario’s bad fall and Poy Erram’s accusations of a spitting incident involving a Magnolia player.
But coach Chot Reyes and company were laser-focus in making sure that TNT can put itself in a great position to win the championship for the first time since the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup.
TNT will have three chances to finish off Magnolia and lift the Jun Bernardino Perpetual Trophy, starting Friday.
Odds favor the Tropang Giga since only Ginebra San Miguel back in the 1991 First Conference against Shell has ever come back from being down 3-1 following a Game 4 loss.
San Miguel Beer did things the hard way, erasing a 3-0 deficit to stun Alaska in the 2016 Philippine Cup.
Magnolia’s third loss spoiled the coronation of Calvin Abueva as the Davco-Best Player of the Conference.
The Hotshots kept the game close early, but the Tropang Giga took command in the second when Reyes and Kib Montalbo combined for 11 straight points before Mikey Williams made it a 44-31 lead from 31-29 halfway into the period.
Reyes then put together four steals in the last three minutes before, two of which resulted in transition layups which contributed to TNT going into halftime up 57-39.
TNT led by a high of 25 twice in the third, first at 68-43 courtesy of rookie Mikey Williams who began to heat up after a pedestrian first two quarters.
Magnolia could only close in at 13 which came early in the fourth on Mark Barroca’s jumper to trail 84-71. TNT, however, refused to cool off as Mikey Williams celebrated his 30th birthday by knocking down outside shots in the last period on his way to 26 points.
Reyes also produced 10 points in a performance that resembled his important role in TNT’s past title runs while Jayson Castro had 10 of his 12 points in the first half. Montalbo, who started Game 3 but hardly saw action, had eight points in 12 minutes off the bench.
Dave Marcelo came off the bench to tally 10 points and five rebounds, Kelly Williams had six points, seven rebounds and three blocks and Erram scored nine as the Tropang Giga frontline delivered with Rosario playing despite his gloomy status leading up to the contest.
Rosario was put in the starting lineup and played 19 minutes, finishing with five points, three rebounds and one block.
Abueva scored 28 points in his best scoring game of the series that coincided with his BPC awarding, but it was not enough for Magnolia to fall in a do-or-die scenario.
TNT 106 — Williams M. 26, Castro 12, Marcelo 10, Reyes 10, Pogoy 9, Erram 9, Heruela 9, Montalbo 8, Williams K. 6, Rosario 5, Khobuntin 2.
MAGNOLIA 89 — Abueva 28, Sangalang 17, Lee 15, Barroca 13, Dela Rosa 11, Reavis 3, Jalalon 2, Ahanmisi 0, Corpuz 0, Melton 0, Pascual 0.
Quarters: 24-24, 57-39, 82-67, 106-89.