Castro fires 42, TNT blows by Phoenix to complete PBA semis cast
ANTIPOLO, Philippines – Jayson Castro came just two points shy of tying his career-high after he unleashed 42 points in TNT KaTropa's 136-124 beating of the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the 2016 PBA Governors' Cup on Saturday, September 24, at the Ynares Center here.
TNT, which dominated the elimination round with a 10-1 record, made it back to the semifinals for the first time this season and in 4 conferences, completing the final 4 cast with Meralco, San Miguel Beer, and Barangay Ginebra.
The KaTropa will face sister team Meralco in a best-of-5 affair starting Tuesday, September 27, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Castro, Asia's best point guard, caught fire early on with 29 points in the first half to lead TNT to a 70-67 halftime lead and eventually this season's second highest scoring output by a team at 136.
He swished in 5 of his 11 total 3-pointers and went 14-of-26 or 54% from the field to go with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and two steals. He also was 9-of-12 from the stripe and was plus-22 in his very efficient 27 minutes on the floor.
For coach Jong Uichico, TNT's big win and Castro's performance were all part of another day in the office.
"We just move to the next round. That’s all that happened today," the soft-spoken coach said, noting he wasn't happy with how TNT defended given Phoenix's 124-point output.
"Enjoy the win for a minute," Uichico cautioned. "When we step out of this coliseum, we prepare for the next game."
Castro's explosion was the highlight but 5 other TNT players made it to double figures with Asian import Michael Madanly scattering 17 points in just over 22 minutes and a perfect 9-of-9 free throw shooting clip.
There were enough points to go around with Ranidel De Ocampo and Ryan Reyes scoring 16 markers each. Reyes made all 4 of his triple attempts while De Ocampo added 7 rebounds.
Larry Fonacier missed only one of his 5 attempts from downtown for 13 points, and Kelly Williams had 12 points plus 5 rebounds off the bench in what was another dominant showing for a team favored to win it all this conference.
TNT breached the century mark late in the third and eventually established a 121-100 lead late in the fourth after a solo 5-0 De Ocampo spurt on a 3-point play and a jumper.
The KaTropa accomplished the victory with reinforcement Mychal Ammons scoring just 7 points – all in the second half – and pulling down 13 boards. He attempted only 6 shots.
Import Eugene Phelps led the way for Phoenix with 39 points and 17 rebounds. Asian import Hee Lee Gwan had 24 points and 6 boards, while Cyrus Baguio and John Wilson had 10 markers apiece.
It was Phoenix's first quarterfinals appearance since purchasing the Barako Bull franchise in January this year.
San Miguel and Ginebra, another sister team pairing, will duke it out for Game 1 of the semifinals on Monday, September 26.
TNT (136): Castro 42, Madanly 17, De Ocampo 16, Reyes 16, Fonacier 13, Williams 12, Rosales 9, Ammons 7, Rosario 4, Rosser 0, Tautuaa 0.
Phoenix (124): Phelps 39, Lee 24, Baguio 10, J. Wilson 10, Enciso 9, Lanete 9, Borboran 7, Urbiztondo 5, Hayes 4, Torres 3, Cruz 2, Intal 2, Buenafe 0, Pennisi 0, W. Wilson 0.
Quarter scores: 32-34, 70-67, 107-93, 136-124.