Magnolia did just enough to hold off Mikey Williams and the rest of the TNT crew Friday to eke out a 92-88 victory and even up their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Hotshots unleashed a mini-surge spanning the last two quarters to post as much as a 19-point, 77-58 lead before leaning on their veterans in weathering the Tropang Giga’s fightback in the closing minutes.
As a result, Magnolia neutralized TNT’s 108-96 win last Wednesday and turned the contest into a best-of-five.
Not after a big scare from TNT, which rallied behind Williams and Castro in making a close game of it.
“Hindi naman namin talaga ma-i-stop si Mikey, kumbaga ma-limit lang namin,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero. “‘Yun lang ang goal namin, ‘yung points niya, ‘yung contributions niya. Once na nag-init talaga siya tuloy-tuloy.”
Indeed, Williams eluded the alternating defense of Rome dela Rosa and Adrian Wong to explode for 25 of his gamehigh 28 points in the second half while getting plenty of help chiefly from Castro, who added 13 of his 17 in the last two frames, as the Tropa made it an 85-90 count, still 1:08 left in the game.
Things got really dicey for the Hotshots when Kelly Williams boomed in a 3 of his own to pull the Tropa within just 88-90.