March 31, 2023

Tropa bundle out Bolts, arrange heavyweight title clash with Kings

Forget Ginebra-Meralco Part V.

Welcome TNT for a shot at the PBA Governors' Cup crown versus Ginebra.

The Tropang Giga advanced to the finale against the three-peat-seeking Gin Kings with a 107-92 disposal of the Bolts at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday.

With tremendous firepower from import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and from their lethal wing guys, the Tropa delivered the killer blow on the Bolts, winning their side of the best-of-five semifinal series in four games.

And thus it's Ginebra versus TNT in the championship series - a duel between the two teams that ruled the league's All-Filipino bubble tourneys in 2021 and 2022.

Sponsored content:
The Gin Kings and the Tropang Giga start their best-of-seven title faceoff on Easter Sunday.

The Tropang Giga grabbed the last finals ticket with a solid Game 4 outing highlighted by the explosive games of Hollis-Jefferson (with 42 points), Calvin Oftana (21), Mikey Williams (17) and RR Pogoy (16).

Jayson Castro also joined the fray, contributing nine markers, four rebounds and three assists as the Tropa rewarded Jojo Lastimosa a finals in his very first stint as head tactician.

Lastimosa deflected the credit to the players for understanding the situation and their willingness to step up in a big game.

"They answered the call," said Lastimosa.

Sponsored content:
In getting past coach Norman Black and his troops, Lastimosa is now faced with a big, big challenge versus great Ginebra coach Tim Cone - his longtime mentor at Alaska Milk.

It's a heavyweight duel between two teams making a second finals in PBA Season 47.

TNT was losing finalist versus San Miguel Beer in the All-Filipino while Ginebra was the mighty conqueror of tough guest team Bay Area in the Commissioner's Cup finale.

Hollis-Jefferson was a big key with a wondrous game he also laced with 11 rebounds and three assists.

He said it's about staying composed, playing hard and fighting hard, later quoting: "A deep breath is nervous system's best friend."

Oftana fuelled their charge in the first half, Pogoy took over in the third then Williams showed his composure and killer instinct at the finish.

Williams hammered down the final nail on Meralco's coffin with a four-point play off a foul by KJ McDaniels making it 103-92 with less than two minutes left to play.

Led by Oftana's 21-point explosion off the bench, the Tropa brought a 53-49 lead over to the second half.

Hollis-Jefferson scored their first eight points and logged a total of 18 in the first two quarters as against McDaniels' 22. (SB)