PBA Commissioner’s Cup

Oftana spoils Bolick NLEX debut, Taulava retirement; Converge scores breakthrough

JR Isaga

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Oftana spoils Bolick NLEX debut, Taulava retirement; Converge scores breakthrough

RED-HOT. TNT forward Calvin Oftana (center) attempts a layup over the NLEX defense in the 2023 PBA Commissioner's Cup

PBA Images

Calvin Oftana was in no mood to join NLEX's double celebration, exploding for 19 third-quarter points to lift TNT from down 22 past new Road Warrior Robert Bolick and retiring Asi Taulava

MANILA, Philippines – Calvin Oftana was all business for TNT amid an NLEX-themed celebration, as he led the Tropang Giga to massive 113-97 comeback win against the Tropang Giga in the continuation of the 2023 PBA Commissioner’s Cup at the PhilSports Arena on Wednesday, December 13.

Down as many as 22 points early in the third quarter, 44-66, TNT leaned on its prized rising star Oftana, who exploded for 19 of his 29 points in that frame alone to edge ahead, 80-78, at the start of the fourth period.

Shellshocked by the successful comeback it witnessed, NLEX hardly put up a fight in the payoff period, letting the Tropang Giga seize control with a 16-5 start for the 96-83 lead off a Kim Aurin triple with 6:37 left to play.

TNT then capped off its huge 40-point turnaround with an 18-point gap, 113-95, at the 1:12 mark, thanks to one last Aurin layup to push his team back to an even 3-3 record and snap a two-game losing streak.

Import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson spearheaded the comeback win with 33 points, 15 rebounds, 6 assists, 2 steals, and 2 blocks in nearly 47 minutes, backstopped by Oftana’s 29 on 8-of-15 shooting and 5-of-9 from three.

Robbie Herndon paced the sorry loss with 25 points, 9 rebounds, and 5 assists, while import Stokley Chaffee Jr. churned out a 15-point, 17-board double-double.

Returning star guard Robert Bolick, in his first game for NLEX after getting traded by NorthPort, came off the bench with 9 points and 4 dimes in 33 minutes.

The Road Warriors, who fell to a 2-6 slate off their fourth straight loss, ultimately failed to gift 47-year-old veteran Asi Taulava a win in what is likely his final game, as his jersey was retired at halftime shortly after drawing a surprise start.

Meanwhile, Converge ended its futile start to the conference with a 103-94 overtime conquest of reeling Terrafirma.

With the win, the FiberXers arrested a six-game slide for a 1-6 record, tied at the bottom with Blackwater, while the Dyip skidded to their fourth straight loss with a 2-5 slate.

Import Jamil Wilson led the breakthrough with 32 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 blocks, and 1 steal in more than 48 minutes of action, while rookie Schonny Winston led the local crew with 17 points off the bench in his first pro league win.

Trailing 88-90 with 3:46 left in the extra period, Converge created a much-needed cushion in the clutch with a pivotal 11-0 run, ending with a Kevin Racal layup, 99-90, with 1:42 remaining.

Sniper Juami Tiongson only managed one meaningless triple to break the run in the final minute before rookie JL delos Santos capped the breakaway at 15-4 with a jumper in the last 20 seconds to set the final score.

Tiongson paced the tough loss with 28 points on 8-of-21 shooting and 10-of-10 free throws in 40 minutes, backstopped by a big 12-point, 19-rebound (13 offensive) double-double from import Thomas Hugo de Thaey.

The Scores

First Game

Converge 103 – Wilson 32, Winston 17, Arana 14, Stockton 9, Nieto 7, Racal 6, Delos Santos 6, Wong 5, Balanza 4, Santos 3, Ambohot 0.

Terrafirma 94 – Tiongson 28, Holt 14, Gomez de Liaño 13, De Thaey 12, Ramos 6, Alolino 5, Camson 5, Carino 4, Cahilig 3, Calvo 2, Miller 2, Go 0, Daquioag 0.

Quarters: 18-22, 43-38, 60-63, 88-88, 103-94.

Second Game

TNT 113 – Hollis-Jefferson 33, Oftana 29, Ponferrada 12, Aurin 11, Montalbo 7, K.Williams 7, Khobuntin 5, Cruz 3, Tolomia 2, Reyes 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Galinato 0, Tungcab 0, Heruela 0.

NLEX 97 – Herndon 25, Chaffee 15, Valdez 14, Ganuelas-Rosser 14, Bolick 9, Anthony 8, Nermal 8, Nieto 2, Marcelo 2, Taulava 0, Rodger 0, Pascual 0.

Quarters: 17-26, 39-58, 80-78, 113-97

– Rappler.com

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