TNT booked the remaining twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals the hard way after outlasting NorthPort with a 106-101 overtime victory in a thrilling conclusion to the the elimination round of the PBA Governors’ Cup Friday, March 11 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Super rookie Mikey Williams sizzled in the extra five-minute period, scoring eight of his 28 points in that juncture as the Tropang Giga survived after blowing an 18-point first half lead that almost saw the quarterfinal bonus slip from their hands late in regulation.
Williams’ two triples highlighted TNT’s 10 straight points to begin the extension after forcing a 90-all tie at the end of regulation.
NorthPort threatened late in overtime, pulling within three twice, the last at 104-101 but turnovers enabled TNT to pull off an escape act.
The Tropang Giga ended the eliminations at 7-4 for a three-way tie with the Meralco Bolts and San Miguel Beermen.
Based on the tiebreaker, TNT secured the No. 3 spot with Meralco at No. 4 while San Miguel lost out on a top four spot and a twice-to-beat by dropping to fifth.
“I think it prepares us for the tough games ahead,” said coach Chot Reyes, whose team’s reward for finishing third is a quarterfinal date with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.
TNT, seeking a sweep of this season’s two conferences, goes into the next phase with five straight wins after stopping NorthPort’s own winning run.
NorthPort was relegated to a playoff for No. 8 with Phoenix Super LPG after ending the eliminations at 5-6. The Batang Pier came into the contest winning five in a row following a 0-5 start.
The Batang Pier and Fuel Masters meet on Sunday at the Big Dome.
Import Aaron Fuller had 15 points and 20 rebounds, Jayson Castro posted 15 points, seven rebounds, five assists and two steals before fouling out in regulation and RR Pogoy and Kelly Williams added 11 and 10.
In a game billed as a battle between two of the league’s hottest teams, TNT was poised to win by a lopsided margin when it started with a 11-0 lead. TNT stayed sharp and eventually went up 53-35 late in the second quarter.
But NorthPort import Jamel Artis led a third quarter surge, scoring 15 of the team’s 34 to go into the fourth with a 73-72 advantage.
A back and forth affair marked the payoff period, with TNT taking an 89-84 lead. But Artis hit a three and Robert Bolick scored a three-point play to put NorthPort back ahead 90-89, 1:49 remaining.
Fuller split two foul shots, 47 seconds to go, to put the game even at 90-all. Artis committed a turnover, Poy Erram missed an open three in the corner and Malonzo muffed a triple off a pass by Artis as regulation play came to an end.
Artis scored 39 points with 13 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks while Bolick added 22 points, seven rebounds and six assists for NorthPort.
TNT 106 — Williams M. 28, Castro 15, Fuller 15, Pogoy 11, Williams K, 10, Rosario 6, Erram 6, Montalbo 5, Khobuntin 5, Reyes 5, Heruela 0.
NORTHPORT 101 — Artis 39, Bolick 22, Santos 16, Malonzo 13, Balanza 6, Taha 3, Ferrer 2, Rike 0.
Quarters: 29-14, 54-39, 72-73, 90-90 (Reg), 106-101 (OT).