ANTIPOLO CITY — Jayson Castro scored a go-ahead basket in the dying seconds as TNT narrowly avoided defeat and stunned newcomer Converge, 86-83, Sunday, June 12 in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center here.
Castro’s runner with 2.6 seconds left in the contest put the Tropang Giga up 84-83 in an incredible turn of events when the FiberXers looked like they were on the verge of beating another PBA heavyweight.
RK Ilagan looked like he would end up the hero once more after knocking down a jumper with 22.9 ticks to go that put Converge in front and TNT’s Glenn Khobuntin committed a turnover for a five-second inbound violation.
But Ilagan couldn’t make his two charities and Castro made a mad dash on the other end to make the winning play that he has done so many times.
A turnover by Converge amid the frenzy plus two made foul shots by J-Jay Alejandro sealed the deal for TNT, which improved to 2-1.
“Our players didn’t give up, even when all seemed lost,” said TNT coach Chot Reyes, whose team bounced back from a shock 85-78 defeat at the hands of Blackwater last Thursday.
Castro scored 17 points to lead four players in double figures as the Tropang Giga won despite squandering an 11-0 start and a 24-9 lead near the end of the opening quarter.
Khobuntin put up 15 points and eight rebounds while Troy Rosario made 13 points and 13 rebounds for TNT.
Converge fell to 1-2, but many thought it could have won all three games to begin its big league foray.
The FiberXers lost a seven-point lead in a 79-77 loss to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters exactly a week ago before pulling off an unlikely 89-82 overtime win over the Magnolia Chicken Timplados Hotshots two days earlier behind Ilagan’s heroics.
Converge took its first lead during the fourth on Mike Tolomia’s triple, 5:49 left, before a seesaw encounter ensued between both clubs.
Maverick Ahanmisi’s jumper made it 78-76 Converge but RR Pogoy knocked down a triple to put TNT ahead once more, 1:45 to go.
Ahanmisi delivered again, this time from downtown for 81-79, but Pogoy found an open Castro for a triple and TNT regained the advantage, 36.3 left.
That set the stage for the unbelievable ending that TNT was glad to escape and for Ilagan and Converge to lament, at least until the next game.
TNT 86 — Castro 17, Khobuntin 15, Rosario 13, Pogoy 12, Alejandro 10, Erram 9, Reyes 6, K.Williams 4, Heruela 0, Marcelo 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
CONVERGE 83 — Tolomia 17, Racal 15, Ahanmisi 15, Arana 9, Teng 8, Hill 4, Ambohot 5, Adamos 2, DiGregorio 2, Bulanadi 2, Murrell 2, Ilagan 2.
Quarters: 24-12, 40-36, 63-57, 86-83.