PBA Finals: TNT loses Jayson Castro but still beats San Miguel for 3-2 lead
MANILA, Philippines-TNT displayed on Wednesday that it can still play its own brand of play even after losing Jayson Castro to an ankle injury in Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
The Tropang Giga moved on the verge of repeating as All-Filipino champions with a 102-93 win inside Smart Araneta Coliseum behind a collective effort anchored by veteran Kelly Williams.
Castro didn’t return after stepping on the foot of San Miguel’s Marcio Lassiter with 7:29 remaining in the third quarter, but Williams, Poy Erram, RR Pogoy and Mikey Williams stepped up in the absence of TNT’s unquestioned leader.
Even role players Kib Montalbo and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser did their share as TNT pulled away and scuttled San Miguel’s comeback bid late in the fourth.
“I thought we fought with a lot of courage,” said Tropang Giga coach Chot Reyes. “We always say that when one man goes down, there’s no one who can fill the shoes.
“But every other person in their own little way can. So that’s what happened, everyone pitched in to be able to compensate and fill what we lacked with the absence of Jayson.”
Mikey Williams waxed hot for TNT with 23 points while Kelly Williams played like he was 10 years younger and delivered 21 points, nine rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Poy Erram also stepped up by posting 17 points and seven rebounds despite spraining his ankle during a practice session held on the eve of Game 5 while RR Pogoy added 14.
Montalbo contributed by dishing out four assists in 15 minutes, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser had a +21 rating when he was on the court while Dave Marcelo also provided intangibles backing up Erram and Williams in the middle.
The Tropang Giga can close it out on Friday at the Big Dome, with Castro’s status a big question mark after walking gingerly with help from a team staff upon leaving the Big Dome.
But TNT seems to be undeterred, keen on trying to produce a similar performance with championship well within reach.
TNT 102 — Williams M. 23, Williams K. 21, Erram 17, Pogoy 14, Castro 8, Rosario 6, Khobuntin 4, Marcelo 4, Montalbo 3, Ganuelas-Rosser 2.
SAN MIGUEL 93 — Fajardo 20, Cruz 16, Tautuaa 12, Perez 10, Manuel 10, Ross 9, Enciso 6, Brondial 6, Lassiter 4.
Quarters: 24-28, 53-50, 84-75, 102-93.