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TNT steals spotlight in spectacular comeback, spoiling Taulava’s retirement, Bolick’s debut 

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The TNT Tropang Giga eked out a 113-97 victory against the NLEX Road Warriors, overshadowing the jersey retirement ceremony of basketball legend Asi Taulava at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig City Wednesday night, December 13, 2023.

 The Tropang Giga’s dominant second half secured a 113-97 win on Wednesday night at the PhilSports Arena, leaving the Road Warriors in disappointment.

The first half of the game saw NLEX off to a strong start, fueled by the debut of Robert Bolick in an NLEX uniform and the historic 24th and final season of Asi Taulava at the age of 50. Playing alongside Stokley Chaffee, Rob Herndon, Matt Nieto, and Enoch Valdez, Taulava’s symbolic start lasted only one minute and 56 seconds, marked by a defensive rebound.

Bolick, a recent acquisition from NorthPort, contributed significantly, helping NLEX establish a 58-39 lead at halftime, extending it to a formidable 22-point advantage at one point.

However, the Tropang Giga turned the tide in the second half, staging a remarkable comeback after the halftime ceremony honoring Taulava. Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and his teammates unleashed a massive 41-20 run, seizing control and ending the third quarter with an 80-78 lead.

The Tropang Giga’s momentum continued into the final period, outscoring the Road Warriors 33-19 and completing a remarkable 38-point turnaround. Hollis-Jefferson was the standout performer, recording an impressive 33 points and 15 rebounds. Calvin Oftana also delivered a standout performance, contributing 29 points, including five three-pointers, in the absence of Jayson Castro.

Jewel Ponferrada added muscle with 12 points and five rebounds, while Kim Aurin provided quality minutes, chipping in with 11 points, including a crucial three-pointer. On the other side, Stokley Chaffee managed 15 points and 17 rebounds, although his playing time was cut short by a hand injury sustained early in the fourth quarter.

Despite a strong showing from Herndon and Valdez, who scored 25 and 14 points respectively, Bolick struggled with a 2-of-8 field goal clip, contributing only eight points to the team’s effort. The Road Warriors’ inability to maintain their first-half momentum resulted in a fourth consecutive defeat, dropping their record to 2-6.

For the Tropang Giga, the victory marked the end of a two-game losing streak, bringing their record to 3-3 at the midway point of the PBA Season 48 Commissioner’s Cup elimination campaign. The game not only showcased the Tropang Giga’s resilience but also added a memorable chapter to the storied career of Asi Taulava.

The boxscores:

TNT 113 – Hollis-Jefferson 33, Oftana 29, Ponferada 12, Aurin 11, Montalbo 7, Williams 7, Khobuntin 5, Cruz 3, Tolomia 2, Reyes 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Tungcab 0, Heruela 0, Galinato 0.

NLEX 97 – Herndon 25, Chaffee 15, Ganuelas-Rosser 14, Valdez 14, Bolick 9, Nermal 8, Anthony 8, Nieto 2, Marcelo 2, Taulava 0, Rodger 0, Pascual 0.

Quarters: 17-26; 39-86; 80-78; 113-97.

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