Williams waxes hot as TNT cools Magnolia for 3-1 series lead
The game wasn’t close and suddenly, neither is the PBA Philippine Cup’s championship series.
TNT moved within a breath of an all-Filipino title on Wednesday night after mangling Magnolia, 106-89, in Game 4 of their race-to-seven contest at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Every member of the Tropang Giga who saw action contributed in scoring, including Troy Rosario, who was initially doubtful to play due to a dislocated finger and an ailing back.
“Our team is constructed in a way that we really don’t have a first group, a second group,” said coach Chot Reyes. “There’s no such thing as ‘bench’ for us.
“We have players who know that when the need arises, they will get a call,” he added.
TNT’s high-scoring rookie Mikey Williams, who turned 30 years old on Wednesday, had 26 points and seven assists for the Tropang Giga. Jayson Castro added 12 points for TNT, which also got 10 each from Dave Marcelo and Ryan Reyes, who also had four steals.
Rosario, who fell hard in Game 3 after a hard foul by Magnolia’s Jackson Corpuz, started the ball game but played under 20 minutes, finishing with five points and three rebounds.
The Tropang Giga took leads as many as 25 points in the third frame en route to the victory, spoiling the night of Hotshots forward Calvin Abueva, who was named the Best Player of the Conference (see story below).
Abueva led Magnolia with 28 points and six rebounds, but also committed five turnovers.
Ian Sangalang, Paul Lee and Mark Barroca chipped in twin-digit scores, but will be forced to do even more if they intend to keep their hopes for a title alive. Sangalang finished with 17 points and 10 boards, Lee had 15 while Barroca added 13.
Reyes and his charges can wrap things up on Friday, ending the franchise’s six-year wait for a title. But the comebacking mentor has not really looked that far ahead.
“Our entire focus is just the next game. In fact, it’s not even the next game, but the first six minutes of the first quarter,” he said.
“That’s how laser-like our focus has to be. We cannot think of anything else. We can’t get ahead of ourselves,” he went on.
“We must be able to stay present and hopefully get the job done.” The game was tied after a quarter, before the Tropang Giga outscored the Hotshots, 33-15, in the second to seize control.
TNT scored the first half’s last 11 points that turned a 46-39 edge into a 57-39 cushion at the break.
As if to underscore Reyes’ claim about everyone being able to contribute, Williams did not have to come up with a bucket in that run, with guys like Brian Heruela, Roger Pogoy, Castro and Marcelo engineering the breakaway.
TNT then spent the rest of the game parrying Magnolia’s comeback attempts.
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