In a cardiac finish, the TNT KaTropa survived a ferocious challenge from the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, pulling through with a 118-114 victory in their knockout quarterfinals match on Friday night in the PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
With 10.2 left and the score tied at 114-all, Glen Rice Jr. sprang from nowhere to score on a putback off an airball three-point attempt by Jayson Castro. After a ROS timeout, J’Nathan Bullock drove to the basket but made a bad pass to Beau Belga for a turnover. The E-Painters then sent Ryan Reyes to the charity stripe. Reyes hit both freebies for the final score.
The Texters thus arranged a best-of-5 semifinals duel against the defending champion Barangay Ginebra San Miguel starting on Monday night. The other semifinal series pits the Meralco Bolts against the Star Hotshots, starting on Sunday.
Rice led TNT with a near triple-double 34 points, 16 boards, and nine dimes along with three blocks and two steals in 40 minutes of action. Castro added 20 markers, 12 assists and six rebounds also in 40 minutes. Three other Texters scored in double digits with Troy Rosario accounting for 18 markers, Roger Pogoy with 16 and Kelly Williams, 10.
The Texters and E-Painters fought tooth and nail in a do-or-die battle that saw 16 lead changes and 16 deadlocks. The seventh-seeded ROS earlier erased the twice-to-beat advantage of the second-seeded TNT with a 106-102 victory on Wednesday to force Friday’s sudden death match.
With less than three minutes left, the Texters took a 112-108 lead after Rice nailed a three-pointer from way beyond the arc. But Belga responded with a putback and then fed Jericho Cruz who scored on an easy layup to tie the score at 112-all.
Bullock then sank two free throws to put ROS back in the lead with 46.4 seconds left. Castro responded with two free throws of his own to set the final deadlock at 114-all before Rice punctuated his heroics with the spectacular putback.
Bullock led the E-Painters with 30 points, three boards, and three assists, while Belga added 18 markers, 10 boards, and one block off the bench. Mark Borboran also came off the bench to deliver 15 points. Gabe Norwood added 14 while Jericho Cruz and Chris Tiu chipped in 11 and 10, respectively, but all for nothing.
TNT 118 – Rice Jr. 34, Castro 20, Rosario 18, Pogoy 16, Williams 10, Semerad 8, Reyes 5, Carey 4, Tautuaa 3, Nuyles 0.
RAIN OR SHINE 114 – Bullock 30, Belga 18, Borboran 15, Norwood 14, Cruz 11, Tiu 10, Ahanmisi 7, Trollano 5, Almazan 4, Ponferada 0.
Quarterscores: 27-27, 59-59, 85-86, 118-114.