MANILA, Philippines – For the first time in two years, TNT is bound for the finals after dispatching Barangay Ginebra, 103-92, in their PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals series at the Araneta Coliseum on Thursday, August 1.
Import Terrence Jones collected his fifth triple-double of the conference and received sufficient help from the locals as the KaTropa dethroned the reigning titlists Gin Kings in 4 games of the best-of-five affair.
The last time TNT reached the championship round was in the 2017 edition of the mid-season tournament.
Jones finished with 24 points, 13 rebound, and 10 assists, while Troy Rosario churned out 22 points and 11 rebounds in the win that saw the KaTropa pull away for good in the final 6 minutes.
The game was still in the balance with Ginebra down 86-94 until Jones led a furious 9-0 run that essentially sealed the win for TNT, which will face the winner of the other semifinals pairing between San Miguel and Rain or Shine.
Jones scored a deuce to give the KaTropa a 96-86 lead and assisted Jayson Castro for a shot clock-beating three-pointer that took the fight out of the Gin Kings.
Rosario and Yousef Taha then sank back-to-back short stabs for a 17-point TNT advantage – a lead the stood until the final buzzer even with it was held scoreless by Ginebra in the last 2:30 minutes.
Castro had 24 points and 6 rebounds, while Roger Pogoy caught fire just in time by pouring out all of his 14 points in the 3rd quarter, where the KaTropa outscored the Gin Kings 28-17 to enter the final frame up 86-79.
Justin Brownlee flirted with a near triple-double of 27 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists, but Ginebra failed to protect its 62-58 halftime lead in order to force a winner-take-all match and keep its title-retention bid alive.
Japeth Aguilar had 27 points and 9 rebounds, while Stanley Pringle and Joe Devance added 15 and 13 points, respectively, in the losing cause.
TNT 103 - Jones 24, Rosario 22, Castro 20, Pogoy 14, Heruela 9, Reyes 6, Trollano 6, Taha 2, Washington 0.
Ginebra 92 - Brownlee 27, Aguilar 27, Pringle 15, Devance 13, Tenorio 5, Thompson 3, Caguioa 2, Slaughter 0.
Quarters: 32-32, 58-62, 86-79, 103-92
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.