PBA Philippine Cup

TNT banks on Castro magic to dispatch Magnolia, reach PH Cup finals

Delfin Dioquino
TNT banks on Castro magic to dispatch Magnolia, reach PH Cup finals

MAIN CLOSER. Jayson Castro shows the way for TNT as they give Magnolia the boot.

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Jayson Castro saves the best for last in the semifinals as TNT finishes off Magnolia in six games to advance to the PBA Philippine Cup finals for the third straight season

MANILA, Philippines – Jayson Castro guided TNT back to the PBA Philippine Cup finals by turning in his finest performance of the conference in an 87-74 victory over Magnolia at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, August 14.

Proving he remains one of the best closers in the league, Castro notched a conference-high 26 points on an ultra-efficient 10-of-13 shooting as the Tropang Giga wrapped up the best-of-seven semifinals series in six games.

Sitting out almost the entire fourth quarter, Castro came off the bench and drilled in what proved to be the dagger, knocking down a booming triple that gave TNT an 80-72 lead with three minutes left.

That three-pointer sparked a win-clinching 10-2 run as the defending champions reached the All-Filipino finals for the third straight season.

Mikey Williams backstopped Castro with 15 points – 8 coming in the fourth quarter – on top of 6 rebounds and 5 assists, while Glenn Khobuntin chimed in 14 points and 7 rebounds.

Khobuntin unloaded 10 points in the final frame, and most importantly, drew the last two fouls of Calvin Abueva, which resulted in the abrupt exit of the Hotshots’ forward with five minutes left.

“If you saw their defense, they were denying Mikey. So as a veteran, I needed to take over because I saw some openings,” said Castro, who fired 11 points in the third quarter to help TNT enter the final frame with a 60-55 lead.

Long regarded as the one of the best two-way players in the PBA, Roger Pogoy delivered 14 points and 5 blocks in the win, with three of his swats coming in the crucial final four minutes.

Poy Erram made his presence felt for the Tropang Giga with 8 points, 10 rebounds, 3 assists, and 2 blocks before he got ejected with 11 minutes left following a disqualifying foul on Ian Sangalang.

Erram left Sangalang wounded in the forehead during a block attempt.

Sangalang went on to finish the match and netted a team-high-tying 16 points alongside 12 rebounds, but Magnolia simply ran out of steam down the stretch after keeping in step with TNT in the first three quarters.

Abueva also had 16 points, Jio Jalalon tallied 11 points, 6 rebounds, 4 assists, and 2 steals, while Paul Lee scored 10 points in the loss.

The main man in the Hotshots’ series-extending 105-97 win in Game 5, Mark Barroca failed to weave the same magic from his 25-point masterclass as he posted just 3 points on a 1-of-10 shooting.

The Scores

TNT 87 – Castro 26, M. Williams 15, Pogoy 14, Khobuntin 14, Erram 8, K. Williams 4, Rosario 4, Montalbo 2, Reyes 0, Marcelo 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.

Magnolia 74 – Sangalang 16, Abueva 16, Jalalon 11, Lee 10, Dela Rosa 6, Laput 4, Wong 3, Barroca 3, Dionisio 2, Escoto 2, Corpuz 1, Brill 1, Reavis 0, Ahanmisi 0, Zaldivar 0.

Quarters: 21-17, 42-34, 60-55, 87-74.

– 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.