TNT ends Ginebra reign, wins 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup crown
MANILA, Philippines–TNT rode the hot hands of Mikey Williams all of Friday night to topple Barangay Ginebra, 97-93, and capture the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup championship.
Cornered by the defending champions into playing catch-up early on, TNT played with steely nerves behind Williams and Best Import awardee Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, whoo chipped in 29 points, 14 rebounds, and six assists.
The challengers clawed back from several double-digit holes to take control of the contest in the third frame, then kept it together the rest of the way to end the crowd darlings’ two-year stranglehold of the Governors’ Cup.
“Ginebra hasn’t lost two games in a row this conference, much less three in a row—that was my pregame talk. And if there’s somebody who can beat them, it’s the team that I’m with right now,” coach Jojo Lastimosa said on the heels of victory.
“It’s not an easy task. A lot of teams tried to beat Tim (Cone) and (Justin) Brownlee at this stage. And they never did. Maybe we got a little break after his food poisoning … But Rondae also had so much fight in him. He would not lose this game. Even if he had his feet severed,” he went on with a smile.
Williams, the reigning Scoring Champion, hit nine triples—including an outrageously deep one that put TNT back up, 95-93, with 1:15 remaining.
The Filipino-American was eventually named Finals Most Valuable Player with an average of 22 points, 3.3 rebounds, and 3.2 assists.
“I’ve got a special group of guys behind me,” Williams said as he accepted the award from the PBA Press Corps.
It was the second Finals MVP for Williams, who won his first during TNT’s championship run in the 2021 Philippine Cup held in Bacolor town, Pampanga.
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Lastimosa also relished the victory over his Ginebra’s counterpart Tim Cone, who was his former coach during his playing days with Alaska.
“I’m greatly honored…seldomly beat Justin Brownlee and Tim Cone in this conference,” Lastimosa said. “They owned the Governors’ Cup, and if there’s somebody dethroning them, they must have done something really nice.”
Resident Ginebra import Justin Brownlee had 29 points and 12 rebounds, while Jamie Malonzo and Scottie Thompson added at least 20 more in the losing effort.
“They played really well,” Cone said of TNT. “They played well all the way through and deserved it more than we did.”
“We would’ve loved to win back-to-back. But it wasn’t meant to be. We still have a lot of growth on this team.”
TNT 97 – M. Williams 38, Hollis-Jefferson 29, Erram 6, Oftana 6, Castro 6, K. Williams 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Montalbo 3, Khobuntin 1.
Ginebra 93 – Brownlee 29, Malonzo 21, Thompson 20, Standhardinger 16, Gray 4, Pinto 2, J.Aguilar 1, Mariano 0, Pringle 0.
Quarters: 20-27, 48-51, 77-73, 97-93.