TNT rediscovered its touch from downtown on the way to a masterful conquest of Barangay Ginebra, 116-104, to tie the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup Finals at two games apiece, Sunday night at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
The Tropang Giga rifled in 21 threes, resetting the Finals record of 20 — which the club also set back in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup title bout — that left the reigning champions puzzled for answers the rest of the night.
Coach Jojo Lastimosa’s wards needed just the first half to exceed their total treys in the previous game, draining 12 to build a 59-41 lead which they would never relinquish towards reducing the series to a virtual best-of-3.
Game 5 is on Wednesday at the Big Dome, with both teams looking to get that crucial win that would move them on the cusp of the championship.
“We had to go back to our three-point shooting. That’s the story of the series so far,” said head coach Jojo Lastimosa as his side succumbed to their foes’ hot outside shooting in Game 3, where the latter drilled 18.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led TNT with 36 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists to further prove why he deserves to win the Best Import award.
Jayson Castro supplied 17 points on four triples off the bench, while Calvin Oftana and Kib Montalbo supplied 16 markers each as the two youngsters made the most out of their first starting gig of the conference.
Mikey WIlliams also finished with 16 as the Tropa received plenty of timely help now that they won’t have Roger Pogoy for the rest of the best-of-7 series after sustaining a fractured right pinky back in Game 3 last Friday.
“We have a lot of heroes tonight. Not only Calvin here on my side,” said Lastimosa, who also welcomed back Kelly Williams.
Justin Brownlee, on the other hand, led Ginebra with 28 points on a rare night he got hounded by foul trouble as he got called for five.
Scottie Thompson backed him up with 22 points, nine rebounds, and six assists. Jamie Malonzo had 17-5-6 while Stanley Pringle added 10.
Newly-crowned BPC Christian Standhardinger was held to just 10 points, easily his lowest output in the Finals to date, with three rebounds and nine dimes.
TNT 116 – Hollis-Jefferson 36, Castro 17, M.Williams 16, Oftana 16, Montalbo 16, Khobuntin 8, Erram 2, K.Williams 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Varilla 1, Tungcab 0, Marcelo 0.
Ginebra 104 – Brownlee 28, Thompson 22, Malonzo 17, Pringle 10, Standhardinger 10, Pessumal 10, Mariano 3, David 2, J.Aguilar 2, Onwubere 0, Gray 0, Pinto 0, R.Aguilar 0.
Quarterscores: 29-23, 59-41, 95-77, 116-104
The 2023 PBA Governors Cup Finals is live-streamed on SMART Sports.