PBA Philippine Cup

Unaware of score, Juami Tiongson emerges as surprise Terrafirma hero

Rob Andrew Dongiapon

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Unaware of score, Juami Tiongson emerges as surprise Terrafirma hero

GAME HERO. Terrafirma’s Juami Tiongon looks to get past the Blackwater defense.


Thinking he only forced overtime, Juami Tiongson wonders why his teammates celebrated after his clutch three – the shot capping Terrafirma’s double-digit comeback against Blackwater

MANILA, Philippines – Bugged by cramps in the fourth quarter, Juami Tiongson displayed his clutch genes even when he mistakenly thought of the score. 

Not knowing it was only a two-point game, Tiongson drilled a three in the dying seconds to complete a 92-91 Terrafirma comeback win over Blackwater in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Rizal Memorial Coliseum on Saturday, March 16.  

“He saw a lot of time left. He thought they (Blackwater Bossing) lead by three. And then it (three-pointer) went in,” said Dyip coach Johnedel Cardel. “I said, it was a good shot.”

The thrilling triumph tied Terrafirma with Blackwater at 3-2 before heading to a two-week break. 

Tiongson finished with 20 points and 6 rebounds to pull the rug from under Blackwater, which led by as many as 19 points in the game. 

“When I made the shot, I was celebrating a bit and my teammates were running towards me. I was thinking there was still an overtime. Why are you celebrating?” said Tiongson. “I was surprised [the shot] won it for us. I didn’t know.”

Blackwater would have led by three in the waning moments, but Rey Nambatac split a pair of free throws, setting up Tiongson’s heroics. 

Terrafirma first took the lead in the final two minutes through a Javi Gomez de Liaño layup, 89-88, before Blackwater regained the cushion after RK Ilagan’s freebies. 

As Tiongson dealt with cramps, many expected prized rookie Stephen Holt to take over for the Dyip, but last year’s top pick botched a pass to the corner for a turnover. 

From there, Tiongson carried the cudgels, pulling up from about two steps out the three-point line and draining the game-winner. 

Terrafirma used a 35-23 third quarter to pull themselves closer going into the final period. 

In his first game back after missing their last game versus the Phoenix Fuel Masters, Holt topscored for the Dyip with 21 points and 13 rebounds but was held scoreless by Blackwater’s defense in the fourth period. 

Nevertheless, the Dyip saw solid contributions from their young core, most notably Isaac Go, who had 17 points on an efficient 8-of-13 shooting, including some timely baskets during the comeback.

“His offense was a big help,” said Cardel of Go’s performance. “I told him to take it easy. One basket at a time.”

Troy Rosario lifted the Bossing with 23 points and 8 rebounds, while Ilagan, who would have salvaged the win for Blackwater if not for his missed three-pointer at the buzzer, recorded 15 markers off the bench. 

After the weeklong All-Star break, the Dyip will return to action on April 3 versus the Meralco Bolts at the Araneta Coliseum.

Blackwater, meanwhile, will face the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on April 6 in the league’s first game back at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium after 13 years. 

The Scores 

Terrafirma 92 – Holt 21, Tiongson 20, Go 17, Sangalang 8, Sangalang 8, Alolino 6, Gomez de Liano 6, Carino 5, Camson 4, Cahilig 3, Ramos 2, Calvo 0.

Blackwater 91 – Rosario 23, Ilagan 15, Suerte 12, Guinto 10, David 9, Nambatac 8, Tungcab 6, Hill 4, Yap 3, Escoto 0Casio 0, Kwekuteye 0. 

Quarters: 21-25, 38-54, 73-77, 92-91.

– Rappler.com

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