TNT finally ends six-year wait for title, dominate Magnolia to claim Philippine Cup
The moment, coach Chot Reyes said, belonged rightfully to the players.
So he sat at the side as his wards celebrated on the floor minutes after wrapping up a 94-79 Game 5 victory on Friday to end a six-year title drought and take home the PBA Philippine Cup at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor town, Pampanga.
“They really put in the effort,” said Reyes. “They stayed together throughout the adversity and this is just a great reward for all their hardships.”
The adversity, it seemed, turned a notch down in the finals. The Tropang Giga closed out a 4-1 series victory and won those four games by an average of 15.5 points a night. How dominant was TNT in the finals? Outside of Magnolia’s Game 3 victory, the Hotshots held the lead for approximately 12 out of 192 total minutes.
Rookie Mikey Williams was a huge factor in TNT’s control of the series and was named Finals Most Valuable Player (MVP) after averaging 27.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game in five outings.
“I feel like this is just a surreal moment for all of us,” said Williams, who finished with 24 points, four rebounds and four assists in Game 5 to become the first rookie since Alaska’s Brandon Cablay in 2003 to win the Finals MVP award. “We’re all just really blessed to be in this moment.”
Magnolia did a good job holding Williams scoreless in the first quarter, but struggled on offense as TNT zoomed ahead, 21-14, after wrapping up the first period on a 16-4 exchange.
Williams caught fire in the second period, scoring 10 points there, as TNT threatened to pull away. Leading by nine, the Tropang Giga scored nine straight points before the Hotshots snuck in a basket and Williams knocked in a triple as TNT reeled off seven more unanswered points to take their biggest lead in the first half, 45-22.Up until that point, the Hotshots had missed 10 straight attempts from beyond the arc and had not drawn any contributions from its bench.
Reserve Jerrick Ahanmisi remedied both as he drained two triples and a short basket while Paul Lee completed a three-point play to put Magnolia within 47-33 at the half.
“Our respect was really there for Magnolia,” said veteran Jayson Castro, who finished with 10 points in winning his seventh PBA title.
Castro best typified TNT’s long wait for a crown. The last time the Tropang Giga won a championship in 2015, Castro wasn’t a dad yet. After Wednesday, he will be celebrating his latest conquest with his three children.
Reyes led TNT to a championship that ended 11 straight conferences of dominance by San Miguel Corp., taking out their rival conglomerate’s clubs one by one in the playoffs.
It was Reyes’ sixth all-Filipino crown, tying him for the most in league history with the late legendary “Maestro,” Baby Dalupan.
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