PBA Philippine Cup

Missing Mikey Williams, TNT opens title repeat bid with grinding win vs Magnolia

Delfin Dioquino
Missing Mikey Williams, TNT opens title repeat bid with grinding win vs Magnolia

LEADING SCORER. Troy Rosario topscores for TNT in a hard-fought win over Magnolia.

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Without its best offensive player, TNT relies on defense and some timely buckets from Jayson Castro and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser to repulse Magnolia

MANILA, Philippines – Defending champion TNT kicked off its title-retention bid in the Philippine Cup on the right foot after a 78-72 win over Magnolia at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, June 5.

Jayson Castro and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser delivered the goods down the stretch as the Tropang Giga reasserted their mastery over the Hotshots in a rematch of the All-Filipino finals last season.

Magnolia grabbed a 69-68 lead with three minutes left before TNT rode on a 10-3 run – with 5 points each coming from Castro and Ganuelas-Rosser – to steal the win.

Chalking up 9 points and 4 rebounds, Ganuelas-Rosser put the finishing touches in the victory after giving the Tropang Giga a two-possession cushion off a free throw and flushing home a two-handed dunk for the final tally.

Troy Rosario led the way for TNT with 22 points on a 5-of-11 clip from three-point land to go with 10 rebounds and 2 blocks, while Castro churned out 16 points and 6 assists.

Glenn Khobuntin made his presence felt for the Tropang Giga with 9 points and 8 rebounds as Roger Pogoy added 8 points and 6 rebounds.

TNT struggled without MVP contender Mikey Williams, who has yet to sign a new contract with the team, but managed to pull through by outscoring its foes 25-17 in the final frame.

“Without our most potent offensive weapon, we had to rely on our defense. The only way we can win games is to limit the scoring of the other team,” said Tropang Giga coach Chot Reyes as his side shot a paltry 25% from deep.

“Fortunately, that is what happened tonight. We were bleeding for our points, it was very hard for us to score baskets,” Reyes added. “It was just a matter of grinding it out, hunkering down on defense, making stop after stop.”

Ian Sangalang paced Magnolia with 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Abueva – another MVP contender – put up 12 points and 12 rebounds in the loss.

The Scores

TNT 78 – Rosario 22, Castro 16, Ganuelas-Rosser 9, Khobuntin 9, Pogoy 8, Erram 5, Montalbo 3, Cruz 2, Reyes 2, Marcelo 2, Tungcab 0, Banal 0.

Magnolia 72 – Sangalang 18, Barroca 14, Jalalon 12, Abueva 12, Reavis 5, Lee 4, Wong 4, Dionisio 3, Corpuz 0, Dela Rosa 0, Laput 0. 

Quarters: 22-21, 42-42, 53-55, 78-72. 

– Rappler.com

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.