Jayson Castro showed his veteran savvy to the fullest by hitting the triple that lifted TNT over Magnolia 93-92 Sunday and into a 2-1 lead in their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal duel Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
After Mark Barroca gave the Hotshots the lead by banking in an awkward runner, Castro took the ball, dribbled up the length of the court before calmly pulling up for the game-winner with just a little under three seconds to go.
The Tropang Giga’s big bounce-back from an 88-92 loss in the best-of-seven series’ Game 2 just last Friday became official when Paul Lee’s heave from beyond halfcourt went well short.
Winning coach Chot Reyes later admitted it was a play that was not specifically designed, but was the fruit of his instruction during their last huddle during a Magnolia timeout in the final 17 seconds of the game.
“We spoke briefly about our defense, but we focused on our offense, what we were going to do after,” related Reyes. “Because whatever happens, whether Magnolia scores or not, we had to score. That was ran exactly the way we wanted, quick inbound to Jayson and the bigs giving him the screen.”
Castro actually scored TNT’s last six points to finish with 16 points and six assists, complementing Poy Erram’s game-high 22 points alongside eight rebounds.
After failing to put up a single shot in Game 2, Glen Khobuntin scored 15 points and nine rebounds, with his points output matched by Mikey Williams, who also dished off 10 assists.
TNT 93 – Erram 23, Castro 16, M. Williams 15, Khobuntin 15, Rosario 8, Pogoy 7, K. Williams 7, Montalbo 3, Reyes 0, Alejandro 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Magnolia 92 – Abueva 18, Sangalang 17, Barroca 15, Dionisio 10, Lee 9, Dela Rosa 9, Wong 6, Jalalon 4, Corpuz 2, Laput 2, Escoto 0.
Quarterscpres: 18-24, 47-41, 66-73, 93-92.