PBA Philippine Cup

TNT gifts Chot Reyes triumphant return with gutsy comeback win

Delfin Dioquino

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TNT gifts Chot Reyes triumphant return with gutsy comeback win

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

PBA Images

With Chot Reyes calling the shots again after a two-conference absence, TNT turns back Rain or Shine for a promising start in the PBA Philippine Cup

RIZAL, Philippines – TNT made sure to give head coach Chot Reyes a triumphant PBA return.

With Reyes calling the shots again after a two-conference absence, the Tropang Giga pulled off a 108-107 comeback win over Rain or Shine in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Center in Antipolo on Wednesday, February 28.

Given an earful by Reyes after a slow offensive start, Calvin Oftana finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds to help TNT complete its comeback from a double-digit deficit for a promising start in the All-Filipino tournament.

It was a fitting welcome gift for Reyes, who temporarily handed the coaching reins to Tropang Giga team manager Jojo Lastimosa as he focused on Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the last FIBA World Cup.

“A few were asking me how does it feel to be back. My reply was, I was never away. I’ve always been with the team, whether it is in practice or in games. So it was not like I was really ever away,” said Reyes.

“There was no big adjustment whether in practice or in games. If ever there was any adjustment, it is just getting back to the grind – the grind of the PBA cadence of practice and games.”

Oftana scored just 6 points at halftime before Reyes commanded him to be more aggressive.

The national team forward delivered, churning out 10 big points in the final quarter, including the three-pointer that gave TNT the upper hand at 106-104 and the layup that pushed their lead to 108-104 with a minute left.

“Coach woke me up. I was not getting the ball because I was still trying to get my rhythm here at Talk ‘N Text,” said Oftana, who spent the last two weeks with Gilas Pilipinas as they swept the first FIBA Asia Cup Qualifiers window.

“Before, coach used to yell at me because of my mistakes, but this time, he yelled at me to shoot the ball,” Oftana added.

Two more Tropang Giga players breached the 20-point mark, with Roger Pogoy posting 22 points and Kim Aurin firing 21 points off the bench.

Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser made his presence felt for TNT with a 15-point, 14-rebound double-double just two days after being acquired by the Tropang Giga through a three-team deal with his former squads NLEX and Blackwater.

Serving as a stabilizer, Jayson Castro chimed in 14 points and 7 assists in the win.

Leonard Santillan tallied 20 points and 11 rebounds, while Adrian Nocum put up 20 points and 4 assists in the losing effort that saw the Elasto Painters squander a five-point lead, 104-99, with under four minutes remaining.

TNT unleashed a 9-0 blast for a 108-104 edge and held on to the win as Andrei Caracut split his foul shots and Jhonard Clarito went for a layup in the dying seconds instead of going for a game-tying triple for Rain or Shine.

Aside from their late collapse, the Elasto Painters shot themselves in the foot by missing 18 of their 42 free throws.

The Scores

TNT 108 – Oftana 23, Pogoy 22, Aurin 21, Ganuelas-Rosser B. 15, Castro 14, Galinato 4, Khobuntin 4, Ganuelas-Rosser M. 3, Montalbo 2, Williams 0, Ebona 0, Reyes 0, Heruela 0, Ponferrada 0.

Rain or Shine 107 – Nocum 20, Santillan 20, Caracut 15, Ildefonso 11, Belga 10, Datu 8, Demusis 6, Clarito 6, Mamuyac 5, Borboran 4, Norwood 2, Concepcion 0.

Quarters: 26-26, 51-52, 83-88, 108-107.

– 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.