Jalen Hudson stars as TNT fends off gritty Phoenix

Import Jalen Hudson showed the way as TNT survived a tough Phoenix stand, 123-119, to begin its bid for redemption on the right foot in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, Jan. 25.

Jalen Hudson shows the way for TNT. (PBA Images)

Looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in the Commissioner’s Cup that saw them miss the playoffs, the Tropang Giga made sure to pick up a victory right on their first game with Hudson leading the attack to shake off a gritty Fuel Masters side and give debuting head coach Jojo Lastimosa his first win at the helm.

Hudson quickly displayed his full arsenal with a near triple-double of 34 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists while RR Pogoy provided the added punch with 21 points and six rebounds.

Calvin Oftana also put up a splendid show, adding 17 points built on four triples - none bigger than the last one he buried during a searing 15-2 run early in the final frame that allowed the Tropang Giga to establish a 14-point lead, 108-94, after only leading by one, 93-92, early on.

TNT, however, still needed to repel a late fightback from Phoenix which banked on its pesky full court press and offensive barrage from JJ Alejandro, import Du’Vaughn Maxwell and RR Garcia.

The Fuel Masters managed to cut the deficit down to single digits, the closest at three, 111-108, after a Maxwell layup which capped a 14-3 counterattack from Phoenix. Hudson and Jayson Castro, though, provided timely hits to restore order for TNT.

Maxwell paced Phoenix with 21 points and 19 rebounds while Jason Perkins added 20 points. Garcia was also solid off the bench with 18 points and eight assists while Tyler Tio also contributed 16 markers, all of which went down the drain as they failed to give interim head coach Jamike Jarin a winning start to his PBA coaching career.