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PBA: Oftana’s last gasp putback downs SMB, gives TNT solo lead

Calvin Oftana beat the buzzer to lift TNT past San Miguel, 105-103, in a clash of PBA Governors’ Cup favorites, Sunday night at the Philsports Arena.

The sophomore winger was at the right place at the right time, cleaning up Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s miss just before time expired to help the Tropang Giga extend their winning streak to six — and take the solo lead anew (7-1).

Oftana finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds, and six assists as his heroics allowed the team to pull through after losing Mikey Williams late in the first half to an injury — on a night they missed Roger Pogoy due to a bone bruise.

“Calvin was just in the right place at the right time. He’s been a great, great rebounder for us and just one of those rebounds that he got there to finish. That was just it – Calvin being around the basket,” said coach Jojo Lastimosa.

Jayson Castro top-scored for TNT with 21 points, alongside five rebounds and eight assists to help boost his side’s Top Four chances.

The long-time face of the franchise, according to Lastimosa, was originally the man he wanted to give the ball to for the final play but suggested a different setup instead, citing the defense of Jericho Cruz on him.

Hollis-Jefferson, instead, became the focal point of the play. He missed his layup off a drive, however, but Oftana beat out Rodney Brondial for the offensive board and cleaned it up, leading to the Tropa’s eruption.

That shot left their corporate rivals stunned most especially import Cam Clark, who wasn’t there to provide added coverage underneath as he got floored along the baseline after disrupting the shot of Hollis-Jefferson.

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Clark was also responsible for tying the game at 113-all following a three-point play conversion off a Glenn Khobuntin foul with 13.1 seconds left.

“That was Jayson’s idea actually, because I wanted a play where he will get the ball and Rondae, they’re going to have a two-man game,” said Lastimosa.

“But Jayson nixed it, he said, ‘Coach, because Jericho’s been hugging me like a tree, I’m going to set a screen for Rondae for him to make a play.’ That was Jayson’s play,” added the cage legend. “We got a good shot at the basket and again, the guys crashed the boards and it was coming from Calvin. Great effort by Calvin.”

Hollis-Jefferson was held to just 19 points but flirted with another triple-double again as he also had 14 rebounds and seven assists.

Kelly Williams made 16 points in yet another remarkable effort, especially in going up against June Mar Fajardo, who only had 12 points and 13 boards.

“He scored some buckets for us, but more than that, we know that Kelly, when it’s June Mar, he forgets that he’s 41. He thinks that he’s 21 years old. I love that. I love the competitiveness of Kelly when it’s June Mar,” said Lastimosa.

Clark, meanwhile, had 30 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Beermen, who dropped to solo second after absorbing their second loss (7-2).

CJ Perez backed him up with 25 points, seven rebounds, and four assists while Cruz was the only other double-digit scorer for SMB with 10 in the loss.

Both San Miguel and TNT will now head for a busy stretch ahead after the faceoff. After the FIBA World Cup 2023 Asian Qualifiers’ final window, they’ll fly to Japan for the EASL Champions Week on March 1-5.

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The two will return on March 15 — the eliminations’ penultimate game date. The Tropang Giga are set to open the double-header affair against NorthPort at 3:00 as the Beermen take on NLEX in the 5:45 p.m. nightcap.

The Scores:

TNT 105 – Castro 21, Hollis-Jefferson 19, K.Williams 16, Oftana 14, M.Williams 11, Chua 8, Khobuntin 8, Varilla 4, Montalbo 4.

San Miguel 103 – Clark 30, Perez 25, Fajardo 12, Cruz 10, Manuel 8, Tautuaa 6, Enciso 5, Lassiter 4, Bualandi 3, Brondial 0, Ross 0, Brondial 0.

Quarterscores: 24-20, 49-48, 83-77, 105-103.

The second game of each PBA gameday is live-streamed on SMART Sports.

Written By

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

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