Only 5.3 seconds remained in overtime, and Troy Rosario was on the charity stripe with the opportunity to ice the game.
It was Game Two of TNT’s 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals clash versus San Miguel, and at that point, victory — and the 2-0 series lead — was within reach.
The KaTropa were ahead, 114-112. The 6-foot-7 forward only needed to sink both freebies to hammer the nail in the coffin.
He missed the first.
And then missed the second as well.
Making matters worse, no one from TNT got the board. Chris Ross collared the rebound instead, then dished it out to Alex Cabagnot for the lay-up with nine-tenths of a second left.
The buzzer sounded shortly after. Overtime, again.
Still, the KaTropa put up a gallant stand — even with the absence Terrence Jones after his ejection in the first OT after getting his second technical foul.
TNT would also lose Rosario late in the second OT, as he fouled out following a loose ball foul against June Mar Fajardo. Rosario left the game with a career-high 34 points.
Unfortunately, the Texters bowed in the end, 122-126, allowing their long-time rivals to tie the series at one game apiece.
Whenever Rosario looks back on it, the pain remains the same as it was that night.
“Talagang nasasayangan ako dun sa Game Two. Sa tingin ko kung nakuha namin ‘yun, tuloy-tuloy ‘yun,” he recalled in the 2OT podcast, presented by SMART Saturday.
“Mahilig ako manood sa YouTube ng mga highlights. ‘Pag minsan nadadaanan — kasi naka-autoplay — pinapatay ko ‘yung TV. Close ko kaagad. Ayokong makita.”
TNT still bounced back in Game Three to regain the series lead, but SMB won the next three matches to finish the bout in six games and claim the crown.
Rosario could only imagine how things could’ve been had the KaTropa secured the win in Game Two, given that they seized the third game.
“If ever nakuha sana namin ‘yung Game Two, three-zero sana nung Game Three,” he lamented.
But as hard as it was to take, Rosario believes that their pain has a purpose. He has faith that one day, the heartbreaks will turn to joy.
“Siguro, may mas magandang plano pa para sa’min,” he said.
Rosario, fortunately, has plenty of reasons to be optimistic about the future of the flagship MVP franchise. TNT now has Poy Erram in the fold following a three-team trade last February, finally addressing its need for a legit big man.
In the mix as well is Ray Parks — whom the KaTropa acquired late last season — who has been gelling better with his teammates.
The two, indeed, would make for a solid starting unit with Rosario, Roger Pogoy, and of course, main man Jayson Castro.
“Medyo nadagdagan kami ng height e. Andyan si Poy, so medyo may panapat na kami sa mga big guys ng ibang teams,” Rosario said.
“Tapos, medyo bata pa kami. ‘Yung tangke namin medyo [marami] pa.”
Now, Rosario hopes that the pieces the team now has will be enough to end the franchise’s title drought.
TNT last won a championship in 2015, when it downed Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in seven games to conquer the Commissioner’s Cup.