Mar 17, 2023

Tropa claim playoffs top spot, send Kings to No. 3

BEHIND a big closing run, the TNT Tropang Giga stretched their streak to eight games and claimed top honors in the PBA Governors' Cup elimination round with a come-from-behind 114-105 drubbing of the Barangay Ginebra Kings Friday at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig.

Import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Mikee Williams and RR Pogoy spearheaded TNT's fiery 30-7 closing salvo to salvage the game and the top seeding in the playoff phase of the season-ending tourney.

From 98-84 down, the Tropa seized the upperhand at 100-99 on their initial spurt capped by a thunderous left-handed jam by Hollis-Jefferson.

Then Pogoy, Williams and Calvin Oftana took over for the finisher as the Tropang Giga sealed their strong run in the elims at 10-1.

They foiled Ginebra's bid for top seeding and instead shoved the Gin Kings down to No. 3 at 8-3.

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Earlier in the day, San Miguel Beer smothered Rain or Shine, 129-116, to end up with a 9-2 slate at second place.

It's TNT, SMB, Ginebra and Meralco filling the Top 4 at the end of the single-round-robin elims.

They enjoy the twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals versus No. 5 Magnolia, No. 6 NLEX, No. 7 Converge and No. 8 Phoenix Super LPG.

On Sunday, the quarters unfold at the Smart Araneta Coliseum with the Beermen and the Kings taking their first crack at the semis versus the FiberXers and the Road Warriors, respectively.

As the top seed, the Tropang Giga enjoy some breather before returning to play Wednesday also at the Big Dome against the Fuel Masters.

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Hollis-Jefferson kept a perfect run in the local pro league in leading TNT past Ginebra with a 34-point job he also laced with 11 rebounds, four assists and four steals.

Williams and Pogoy also played key roles with a 25-point job and a 22-point effort, respectively. Oftana and Jayson Castro added 12 apiece.

Justin Brownlee led their lost cause with 27 points. (SB)

The Scores:

TNT 114 - Hollis-Jefferson 34, M.Williams 25, Pogoy 22, Oftana 12, Castro 12, K.Williams 5, Chua 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Montalbo 0, Varilla 0, Khobuntin 0.

Ginebra 105 - Brownlee 27, Standhardinger 19, Thompson 19, Malonzo 15, Pringle 10, Gray 5, Pessumal 3, David 3, Onwubere 2, Dillinger 2, Pinto 0, Mariano 0.

Quarters: 23-27, 47-56, 82-93, 114-105