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PBA: Mikey Williams puts nail in Meralco’s coffin as TNT sets up clash vs Ginebra

Mikey Williams typified endgame poise time and again to help TNT oust Meralco, 107-92, to punch the remaining ticket to the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals, Friday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.

The league’s reigning scoring king finished with 17 points, none bigger than his four-point play conversion. That expanded their lead to 103-92 with 1:43 left to play – more than enough to suck the life out of their sister team.

By breaking a years-long trend, the Tropang Giga have set up a best-of-7 duel with defending champions Barangay Ginebra beginning on Easter Sunday.

It would be the corporate rivals’ first Finals duel since the 2020 Philippine Cup, with the flagship MVP franchise out for payback. It previously suffered a gentleman’s sweep at the hands of the team out to win title no. 7 since 2016.

“Going into this series, I like my chances. Our players are playing well. And we’ve been winning our [elimination] games with scoring. And right now, we’re defending well,” offered head coach Jojo Lastimosa.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson powered TNT with 42 points to reset his PBA career-high for the second time in a row. He also had 11 rebounds.

Calvin Oftana supplied 21 points on five triples, all of which he made in the first half alone. He also had eight rebounds, an assist, two steals, and a block.

Roger Pogoy added 16 as the Tropa got back on the same team that foiled their Finals hopes in the 2019 Governors’ Cup. There, they lost in a deciding Game 5 against a Bolts crew then led by former resident import Allen Durham.

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KJ McDaniels, ironically TNT’s reinforcement in 2019, finished with 37 points and 12 rebounds to lead Meralco in the defeat, which further prolonged the former NBA cager’s quest for a PBA Finals breakthrough.

Aaron Black had 19 points, while Chris Newsome and Chris Banchero made 11 each in their failed bid of writing the fifth chapter of their rivalry with Ginebra.

The Scores:

TNT 107 – Hollis-Jefferson 42, Oftana 21, M.Williams 17, Pogoy 16, Castro 9, Erram 2, Chua 0, Varilla 0, Khobuntin 0, Montalbo 0.

Meralco 92 – McDaniels 37, Black 19, Newsome 11, Banchero 11, Quinto 7, Almazan 4, Hodge 2, Maliksi 1, Caram 0, Jose 0.

Quarterscores: 22-22, 53-49, 83-75, 107-92.

Written By

Oftentimes on the sidelines. Forever a student of the game. Morayta-bred.

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