PBA Philippine Cup

Hungry for redemption, razor-sharp Oftana guides TNT out of funk

Delfin Dioquino

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Hungry for redemption, razor-sharp Oftana guides TNT out of funk

LONG BOMB. Calvin Oftana in action for the TNT Tropang Giga in the 2024 PBA Philippine Cup.

PBA Images

Calvin Oftana hits key buckets late and makes it rain from beyond the arc as TNT bounces back from its most lopsided loss of the season with a gritty win over Meralco

MANILA, Philippines – TNT star Calvin Oftana turned down a pre-game interview as he aimed to keep his focus on their battle against Meralco in the PBA Philippine Cup.

That was how badly Oftana wanted to win.

Oftana hit key buckets late and finished with a game-high 26 points as the Tropang Giga got back on track in the All-Filipino tournament with a 92-90 win over the Bolts at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium on Sunday, April 7.

The reigning Three-Point Shootout champion, Oftana sank 6 of his 8 attempts from beyond the arc and added 9 rebounds and 3 blocks to help TNT snap a two-game skid and improve to an even 3-3 record.

“I wanted to focus because I wanted to bounce back from my performance last game,” Oftana said in Filipino. “We did not just lose, we got blown out.”

Oftana was referring to a 112-96 beating NorthPort dealt the Tropang Giga last Friday – a defeat where he put up a conference-low 13 points on a 5-of-13 from the field, including 1-of-3 from long range.

It marked the most lopsided loss by TNT this season.

Hungry for redemption, Oftana came out firing against the Bolts early, unloading 19 points in the first half as the Tropang Giga built a 49-40 lead going into the break.

Oftana went scoreless in the third quarter, but when TNT needed him the most, he rose to the occasion anew.

Meralco held to an 87-84 edge with under four minutes remaining before Oftana scattered 7 points in an 8-0 run that gave the Tropang Giga a 92-85 advantage, and eventually, the win.

“Credit to my teammates and coaches for their trust in me. I just try to repay that,” said Oftana.

Jayson Castro backstopped Oftana with 15 points and 6 rebounds, Kelly Williams put up a double-double of 11 points and 13 rebounds, while rookie Henry Galinato added 11 points and 6 rebounds.

Aaron Black paced the Bolts with 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 assists, although his supposed game-tying layup got blocked by Roger Pogoy with under 10 seconds left.

Meralco retained possession with a chance to either win it all or send the game to overtime, but rookie Jolo Mendoza missed his game-winning trey at the buzzer.

Cliff Hodge chimed in 16 points and 5 rebounds, while Allein Maliksi and Chris Banchero contributed 11 and 10 points for the Bolts, who fell to 3-4.

The Scores

TNT 92 – Oftana 26, Castro 15, Pogoy 11, K.Williams 11, Galinato 11, Khobuntin 8, Montalbo 5, Aurin 3, M.Ganuelas-Rosser 2, B.Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Varilla 0, Reyes 0, Heruela 0, Ponferrada 0.

Meralco 90 – Black 16, Hodge 16, Maliksi 11, Banchero 10, Quinto 9, Newsome 8, Almazan 8, Pascual 5, Mendoza 2, Jose 2, Torres 2, Pasaol 1, Rios 0.

Quarters: 21-25, 49-40, 73-68, 92-90.

– Rappler.com

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Delfin Dioquino

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.