TNT overcomes injury plague with white-hot shooting to square series
TNT suffered another injury hit after learning that RR Pogoy will be out for the rest of the PBA Governors’ Cup Finals.
But coach Jojo Lastimosa refused to make an excuse out of it.
Instead, the Tropang Giga used a 116-104 victory over Barangay Ginebra on Sunday to level the best-of-seven series at 2-2 and strengthened their belief that getting a championship can be done against all odds.
“I’m not surprised,” Lastimosa said after a big win before 16,203 fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum, pointing at how heroes were aplenty in TNT’s near-sublime performance highlighted by record-setting performance from downtown.
The Tropang Giga set a Finals record with 21 three-pointers to turn Game 4 into a one-sided beatdown, on the night when Pogoy began fleshing out the role of spectator after being sidelined with a broken finger.
Pogoy, known for being a capable scorer from the perimeter and one of the premier defenders in the league, is done for the series after getting hurt during TNT’s 117-103 loss two nights prior.
On paper, it left TNT with a bigger hole especially against a Ginebra side that was already the favorite before the series.
But all those threes came to the rescue of the Tropang Giga.
Mikey Williams continued his consistent shooting from deep, Jayson Castro came off the bench to deliver big shots as well while Kib Montalbo became the gambit that paid off handsomely for Lastimosa and the rest of the TNT coaching staff.
Montalbo started and responded with 16 points, including a prayer from near halfcourt at the buzzer which brought TNT into the locker room holding a 59-41 lead.
And then there’s Calvin Oftana, malignant by Lastimosa for his disappearing act in Game 3. He also scored 16 and was one of four players—the others being Williams, Castro and Montalbo—to hit four triples.
Oftana’s role is expected to be bigger going into the latter stretch of the Finals now that Pogoy is out.
“We’re gonna miss Roger in this series,” Lastimosa said. “I just hope that Calvin can step up. He’s the MVP (Most Valuable Player) of the NCAA (with San Beda in 2019) and he’s a bonafide scorer.”
Saddleed with fouls
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who beat Justin Brownlee for the Best Import award, showed why he’s a worthy winner after putting up 36 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and three steals for the Tropang Giga.
Brownlee, meanwhile, was saddled with five fouls but still managed 28 points on 11-of-22 shooting.
Christian Standhardinger, who before tipoff was named Best Player of the Conference (BPC), will be eyeing a better performance for at least the next two games beginning with the chase for the 3-2 lead on Wednesday after posting just 10 points and nine assists .
Standhardinger won a second career BPC in convincing fashion with 1,110 points (534 stats, 506 media votes and 70 players), beating out TNT’s RR Pogoy (672), San Miguel Beer’s CJ Perez (571), Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson (497) and Jamie Malonzo (456) by a wide margin. INQ
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