Hotshots lose to Tropang Giga, fall to 7th seed

TNT translated its determination into a dominant performance, securing a spot in the quarterfinals of the PBA Philippine Cup with a 98-93 victory over Magnolia at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium on Sunday.

Kelly Williams and Jayson Castro led the charge for the Tropang Giga, who entered the game with a sense of urgency to avoid a knockout game for the final quarterfinals berth.

The veteran duo were supported by strong performances from Brian Heruela, Calvin Oftana, and Jewel Ponferrada, helping TNT bounce back from a tough loss to Converge and finish the eliminations with a 6-5 record, earning them a No. 4 seed in the quarterfinals.

Coach Chot Reyes was pleased with his team’s performance, seeing it as valuable preparation for their upcoming Best-of-three series against fifth-seeded Rain or Shine.

“The most important thing in this game was the fight and the effort of the players to still come in with a lot of courage to play a very strong Magnolia team,” said Reyes.

“I’ve talked about the need for us to play a complete 48-minute game,” added Reyes. “All our games, whether we won it or we lost it, we were down by 15 or 16 points. I think this is the first game I can can recall that we were not down by a double-digit margin.”

Williams recorded 19 points, eight rebounds, and four assists, while Castro contributed 18 points and seven assists. Heruela, Oftana, and Ponferrada also made significant contributions, each scoring at least 11 points as TNT took control of the game early and fended off Magnolia’s comeback attempts.

Despite a strong effort from Magnolia, led by Mark Barroca’s 22 points and Ian Sangalang’s 21 points and seven rebounds, TNT had an answer for every challenge thrown their way, securing their spot in the quarterfinals.

Despite ending the elimination round with the same 6-5 record along with Meralco, NLEX and Rain or Shine, the Hotshots settled for the 7th seed by virtue of having the lowest quotient among the five teams.

The scores:

TNT 98 – K. Williams 19, Castro 18, Heruela 13, Oftana 12, Ponferrada 10, Pogoy 7, Khobuntin 7, B.Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Montalbo 4, Aurin 2, Galinato 2, Varilla 0.

Magnolia 93 – Barroca 22, Sangalang 21, Dionisio 14, Dela Rosa 9, Abueva 7, Jalalon 6, Balanza 5, Lee 3, Laput 2, Reavis 2, Tratter 2, Eriobu 0, Mendoza 0.

Quarterscores: 16-14, 47-36, 80-65, 98-93.

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