MANILA, Philippines – Rondae Hollis-Jefferson notched his first PBA triple-double and steered TNT to the Governors’ Cup semifinals following a 132-105 whipping of Phoenix at the Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, March 22.
Hollis-Jefferson churned out 18 points, 12 rebounds, 10 assists, and 4 steals as the Tropang Giga remained unbeaten in six games with the former NBA player and clinched their ninth straight win overall to join the final four.
With Hollis-Jefferson spreading the wealth, five more TNT players scored in double figures led by Jayson Castro and Glenn Khobuntin.
Castro scored 17 of his 20 points in the first half as the Tropang Giga grabbed a slim 66-64 halftime lead, while Khobuntin anchored their third-quarter breakaway with a season-high 19 points.
Finding his stroke from deep, Khobuntin drained three of his five triples in a blazing 17-5 run that gave TNT an 83-71 lead coming off a 66-66 deadlock.
The Tropang Giga outscored the Fuel Masters 34-19 in the third quarter to mount a commanding 100-93 lead before Roger Pogoy delivered the finishing blows in the final frame.
Pogoy, who fired a game-high 25 points with 11 rebounds, 7 assists, and 4 steals, scattered 12 points in the fourth quarter, including the layup that gave TNT its biggest lead of the game at 122-94 with six minutes left.
Calvin Oftana came off the bench with 15 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 steals, while Mikey Williams added 14 points and 7 assists as the Tropang Giga await the winner between Meralco and Magnolia.
“I like it so much,” said TNT head coach Jojo Lastimosa when asked about facing either the Hotshots or the Bolts in the semifinals.
The Tropang Giga pulled through despite losing veteran big man Kelly Williams late in the opening quarter to a pulled calf. He put up 2 points and 1 rebound in seven minutes before his exit.
An encouraging sign, though, for TNT is the return of Poy Erram, who tallied 6 points and 3 rebounds in five minutes after missing the entire elimination round following a knee surgery.
Du’Vaughn Maxwell paced Phoenix with 23 points and 10 rebounds in the loss that marked another early exit for the franchise.
The Fuel Masters have not made it past the quarterfinals for the last five conferences, or since they almost reached the championship round of the 2020 Philippine Cup with former stars Matthew Wright and Calvin Abueva.
Jason Perkins posted 21 points and 6 rebounds for Phoenix, while Javee Mocon had 15 points, 5 rebounds, and 4 assists.
TNT 132 – Pogoy 25, Castro 20, Khobuntin 19, Hollis-Jefferson 18, Oftana 15, M.Williams 14, Chua 6, Erram 6, Montalbo 3, Marcelo 2, K.Williams 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Varilla 0, Tungcab 0.
Phoenix 105 – Maxwell 23, Perkins 21, Mocon 15, Serrano 9, Jazul 8, Manganti 8, Tio 7, Muyang 5, Soyud 3, Lojera 3, Alejandro 3, Garcia 0, Camacho 0, Adamos 0, Go 0.
Quarters: 38-41, 66-64, 100-83, 132-105.
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