Castro returns to TNT a hero, pushing Tropang Giga to 2-1 semis lead
Thrust in the jaws of defeat, TNT found a hero in an old hand.
Cool, calm and collected, veteran guard Jayson Castro knocked down a three-pointer that sealed a 93-92 win that propelled the Tropang Giga to a 2-1 lead over the Magnolia Hotshots in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series before a good-sized Sunday crowd at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
“That was run the way exactly we wanted it,” said TNT coach Chot Reyes, who did not have the benefit of a timeout with his team down by two in the dying seconds.
TNT faced the prospect of losing for the second straight game when Mark Barroca, equally composed in cardiac situations, faked his defender and scored on a layup with less than 10 seconds left to break a deadlock at 90.
With no timeouts left, Castro took a quick inbound before using a Kelly Williams screen to drain the winning three, the clock down to 2.4 seconds. A desperate heave by Magnolia went nowhere and TNT regained control in the best-of-seven series.
Castro’s performance highlighted a Tropang Giga triumph that came amid Magnolia’s relative success in limiting Mikey Williams, who struggled to make shots against a tight defense that targeted him.
Magnolia coach Chito Victolero had earlier emphasized the importance of stopping not only Williams but also the rest of the TNT crew.
And the Hotshots got part of the job done.
Williams was held to 15 points on a 4-of-13 shooting after averages of 27.0 points on 48-percent shooting in the first two games. He also missed an open layup during a wild sequence which led to a Barroca basket that tied the count at 90-all, under a minute to go.
But the Tropang Giga got big offensive contributions from center Poy Erram, who scored 22 points, Castro with 16 and Glenn Khobuntin’s 15.
“Mikey’s a big part of our offense, but we win games as a team with everyone’s contribution,” said Reyes. “It’s not only Mikey that they’re defending, they’re defending Jayson, they’re defending Roger [Pogoy] and they’re defending our other bigs.”
Williams did dish out 10 assists as the dynamic guard balanced his role of scorer and facilitator.
Reyes is hoping his team can continue finding ways against the Magnolia defense. TNT shoots for a commanding 3-1 lead on Wednesday, again at the Big Dome.
“It’s really going to take a team effort, a complete team effort to get two more wins,” Reyes said.
It was a stinging setback for the Hotshots, who came so close to taking another win despite losing Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang due to six personal fouls each.
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