JAYSON Castro rescued TNT Tropang Giga from imminent danger in regulation play then Poy Erram, on at least two occasions, found himself in the right place at the right time in overtime and helped his team pull through.
Castro and Erram played key roles as the Tropang Giga repulsed the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, 89-85, to jack up their slate to 4-2 at fifth place in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Ynares Sports Center in Antipolo Thursday night.
Troy Rosario, RR Pogoy and the returning Mikey Williams had their contributions as TNT survived a 16-point deficit in the second half and foiled the ROS team that went down to a fourth straight loss after a triumphant season debut over Converge.
Rosario top scored with 19 points that went with eight rebounds, Pogoy fired 12 off the bench while Williams kept firing though he's a bit off and finished with 15 markers on 5-of-20 field clip.
But Castro and Erram proved to be TNT's biggest saviors, with the peppery guard scoring eight in their 10-to-nothing closing salvo in regulation and the 6-foot-8 center accounting for six of their 11 points in the extra period.
Erram himself drained the go-ahead basket, 87-85, while Castro knocked in the insurance freebies with 2.2 ticks left.
"The whole game, Rain or Shine gave us a problem, but I thought our defense held. It's just hard to defend the fast breaks. In the fourth quarter, we're able to take shots," said TNT coach Chot Reyes. "That's our entire focus, to take shots and not to turn the ball over.
"The players never gave up. And as we're able to take shots, we gave ourselves a chance. We ground it out," Reyes added.
Erram said it was indeed a tough grind, and he's thankful to his coach and teammates for their trust given him despite his struggle.
"Coach (Chot) always gives me a chance. At hanggang may chance na binibigay sa akin, lalaro ako. Luckily, may hard work at tenacity nakatulong in the end," said Erram, whose six-point production in OT capped a double-double outing with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
"Sobrang hirap buong game. Pinahirapan kami. We're lousy with our offense, buti na lang yong defense namin nandoon hanggang matapos," he added.
The TNT defense held tight in the closing minutes of the fourth, allowing them to chip away and eventually force overtime on a driving layup by Castro with 24.3 seconds to go.
Castro himself touched off their lethal run at the finish with back-to-back three-pointers.
The Tropang Giga even found an opportunity to win it right on regulation but Erram missed a hurried turnaround shot in the waning seconds.
But there's no denying the Tropa in the extension, thus, negating the sterling efforts of ROS youngsters Mike Nieto (19 points), Gian Mamuyac (18), Santi Santillan (17) and Rey Nambatac (16). (SB)
TNT 89 - Rosario 19, M.Williams 15, Erram 13, Pogoy 12, Castro 12, Khobuntin 5, K.Williams 4, Alejandro 4, Tungcab 3, Cruz 2, Marcelo 0, Heruela 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Banal 0.
Rain or Shine 85 - Nieto 19, Mamuyac 18, Santillan 17, Nambatac 16, Torres 6, Belga 5, Norwood 2, Demusis 2, Caracut 0, Borboran 0.
Quarters: 20-17, 37-40, 51-62, 78-78, 89-85