By Michael Angelo S. Murillo, Senior Reporter
THE TnT Tropang Giga go for the jugular and claim the PBA Philippine Cup title when they trek back to action on Friday for Game Five of the best-of-seven finals series at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Currently holding a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots after taking Game Four, 106-89, on Wednesday, TnT now seeks to close out the proceedings and return to being Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) after six years.
The Tropang Giga put themselves in great position to win the title of the ongoing All-Filipino tournament with a steady performance on both ends last time around.
They used an explosive second quarter where they outscored the Hotshots, 33-15, to build a considerable lead, 57-39, at the break, and never relinquished control en route to the victory.
Rookie Mikey Williams took charge again for TnT in the Game Four victory, scoring a team-high 26 points and going 6-of-11 from beyond the arc.
Veterans Jayson Castro and Ryan Reyes also provided ample support from the bench as the team continuously fended off any comeback Magnolia tried to make.
Forward Troy Rosario showed tremendous heart despite nursing an injured finger and back. The athletic forward started the game which he was expected to miss after failing to finish Game Three following a hard fall.
Mr. Rosario played 19 minutes in Game Four, finishing with five points, two rebounds and a block.
TnT coach Chot Reyes lauded the collective effort that his wards put up to make the victory possible, including that of Mr. Rosario.
“Our team doesn’t have a first group or a second group. We just have 15 guys and everyone, when asked to come in to play, is accountable to be able to deliver. Anyone can start and anyone can play off the bench, it doesn’t matter. That’s our team,” Mr. Reyes said in the post-game press conference.
“Shout out to Troy. He should not be playing. The reason we played him was for inspirational purposes. You see he couldn’t even catch the ball, but he wanted to try to play. The message of courage rubbed off on his teammates. It’s a great heart shown by Troy, then everything followed,” he added.
TnT is seeking its sixth All-Filipino title and eighth PBA crown in franchise history. It was last a champion in 2015 with the Commissioner’s Cup.
For Magnolia, it will try to extend the series further and sweep the remaining games of the series.
In Game Four, best player of the conference winner Calvin Abueva tried to tow the Hotshots to the win with 28 points, but they just could not get the leverage they were angling for to fashion out a comeback.
Ian Sangalang had a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds while Paul Lee had 15.
Magnolia is in search of Philippine Cup title number seven and 15th league championship. The Hotshots’ most recent title was the 2018 Governors’ Cup.
Game Five of the PBA Philippine Cup finals is set for 6 p.m.