PBA 3×3: TNT rallies to win third conference grand finals
MANILA, Philippines-Gryann Mendoza delivered in the clutch as TNT completed a dramatic comeback against Purefoods in overtime, 21-19, to win the PBA 3×3 Third Conference grand finals Sunday before a packed crowd at the Robinsons Place Manila.
The 31-year-old shooting guard nailed a corner shot for the winning deuce that capped the Tropang Giga’s mighty rally from five points down late in regulation play.
Almond Vosotros, named scoring champion anew for the third straight conference, made the title-clinching play possible after drawing a double team from Joseph Eriobu and Marvin Hayes before whipping the pass to an open Mendoza, who stepped back to nail the coup de grace.
“It’s really a joyful feeling. Coming from Almond, he’s a scoring champion. He took one step backward in humility. He didn’t force or take it upon himself to close out the game,” said Mendoza of the game’s final sequence. “He trusted his teammates.”
Mendoza had a team-high eight points, Vosotros added five, while Lervin Flores and Samboy De Leon four each in the win worth P750,000 for the telecommunication franchise.
It was the first grand championship for the TNT boys of coach Mau Belen, who was a dominant force during the six-leg tournament where they won three leg titles.
“It was a very long journey, very hard. The expectations are always high, and why not, because we have a good set of players in our roster.
Management team is top notch, our 5-on-5 team is as good as they are. So I’m just so glad we’re able to take off some of the pressure with this championship,” said Belen.
It appeared everything was loss for the Tropang Giga as the Titans led at 18-13 inside the final two minutes, and 19-15 with a minute left to play.
But TNT scored four straight baskets on two layups by Mendoza and De Leon’s two pressure-packed free throws in the last 32 seconds to pave the way for the extra period.
Eriobu and Hayes finished with six each for Purefoods, which consoled itself with the P250,000 runner-up purse.
On the way to the finals, the Titans nipped Sista Super Sealers in the semis, 21-19, while the Tropang Giga proved too much against a Jeff Manday and Ken Bono-less San Miguel side, 21-15, to arrange the last title showdown of the league’s inaugural season.
In the battle for third, Sista also completed a come-from-behind win over San Miguel, 21-20, to take home P100,000.
Kenneth Mocon scored the winning basket off a drive for the Super Sealers, who were staring at 19-16 deficit down the stretch.
Mocon accounted for half of the team’s output with 11 points, while Jam Jamon added five, including two straight deuces that knotted the count at 20, paving the way for the thrilling finish.
TNT (21) – Mendoza 8, Vosotros 5, De Leon 4, Flores 4.
Purefoods (19) – Hayes 6, Eriobu 6, Mendoza 4, Bonsubre 3.
Battle for third
Sista (21) – Mocon 11, Jamon 5, Gabawan 3, Manlangit 2.
San Miguel (20) – Comboy 10, Gamalinda 7, Mangahas 2, Gotladera 1.
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