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TNT nears finals berth in PBA Governors’ Cup

By: Dennison Rey A. Dalupang - Philippine Daily Inquirer | December 20,2019 - 11:09 AM

Cebuano RR Pogoy of TNT breaks free for a layup in Game 3 of their semifinal game with Meralco at the Araneta Coliseum. contributed photo | PBA Images

TNT used a fiery third period to pull the rug from under Meralco, 101-97, and seize control of their PBA Governors’ Cup race-to-three semifinal duel on Thursday night at Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.

The KaTropa outscored the Bolts by 15 in the pivotal third and turned a nine-point deficit into a six-point spread going into the final quarter as KJ McDaniels rebounded from a slow start to hammer down crucial points in the stretch.

McDaniels scored on two huge put-backs in the stretch, including one that gave TNT a 100-97 lead. The KaTropa then forced a missed three from the Bolts’ Allein Maliksi to move within a win of a Finals berth.

“We were way, way better on defense than in the last game,” said TNT coach Bong Ravena whose charges struggled to gain a foothold of the match in the first half.

All of the KaTropa’s starters were able to deliver twin-digit scores, with Troy Rosario leading the way with 25 points.

Rosario also had a huge triple that broke a 91-all deadlock and shifted momentum to the TNT side after the Bolts seemed to have seized control.

“Their backs are against the wall, so we couldn’t afford to be careless,” Ravena said of the Bolts, who again got the goods from Allen Durham, who finished with 32 points, 19 rebounds and seven assists.

TNT can wrap up the series on Saturday at 6:30 p.m. at Ynares Center in Antipolo, Rizal.

But the KaTropa need to address a slow start that bogged them down early in Game 3.

“We can’t keep having starts like that. It’s so flat,” Ravena said. “Even if you say that this is a series, and it could be a long one, we run the risk of letting it become a habit.”

Meanwhile, after putting together back-to-back lopsided wins that, for all intents and purposes, has burst the confidence of the enemy, it wasn’t a surprise to hear Barangay Ginebra coach Tim Cone—the veteran who has seen it all in three decades coaching in the PBA—play down what has happened in the last two games of this side of the Governors’ Cup’s Final Four.

“You win by 30; maybe you can get two wins instead [of one], but you can’t,” he told scribes on Wednesday night, after the Gin Kings’ 132-105 drubbing of NorthPort at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao that gave Ginebra a 2-1 lead in their best-of-five series and made most everyone concede that this thing’s over and done with, what with the way it has manhandled the walking wounded Batang Pier.

“It’s still a 50/50 game the next game,” Cone said, referring to Game 4 at 7 p.m. on Friday also at the iconic Big Dome. “You only get one win out of a 30-point win—the same as if you won by a point. For them [Batang Pier], it’s the same if they lost by a point or by 30.”

“It’s nice to have a head start [now that the series is down to a best-of-three],” Cone said. “[But this win] still just goes down as a 2-1 series lead.“

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TAGS: game 3, Governors' Cup, Meralco, PBA, results, TNT

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