The TNT Tropang Giga has officially ended the Barangay Ginebra’s reign as the PBA Governors’ Cup champions in a thrilling 97-93 win at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Friday, April 21.
Tropang Giga bested the Kings, 4-2, in their best-of-seven title series.
Mikey Williams and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson were the night’s heroes as they led the Tropang Giga to their first-ever championship in the season-ending tourney.
Williams was unstoppable with a whopping 38 points, while Hollis-Jefferson contributed 27 points, 13 rebounds, six assists, and two steals, making them a dynamic duo on the court.
The Tropang Giga’s victory was a collective effort as Jayson Castro, Poy Erram, Kelly Williams, Calvin Oftana, Glenn Khobuntin, and Kib Montalbo all contributed to outlasting the Kings in a hard-fought battle. This win completed their remarkable Cinderella ride led by interim coach Jojo Lastimosa.
The crowd of 13,588 was mostly Ginebra supporters, but the Tropang Giga silenced them with their impressive performance. When Justin Brownlee launched a go-for-broke attack in the dying seconds, the Tropang Giga foiled it, and Hollis-Jefferson grabbed the crucial defensive rebound. With a foul from Jamie Malonzo, Hollis-Jefferson knocked in two free throws, sealing the win and the franchise’s ninth PBA championship.
TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa expressed in a post-game interview that he reminded his team before the game about Ginebra’s impressive record of not losing two consecutive games in the conference, let alone three in a row. He also believed that if any team could beat Ginebra, it was the Tropang Giga.
He said, “It’s not an easy task.” A lot of teams have attempted to defeat Tim Cone and Justin Brownlee at this stage. “And they never did,” he added. Coach Lastimosa also mentioned that the team got a break after Justin Brownlee’s food poisoning, but Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s determination helped them win the game.
Lastimosa commented that Rondae was incredibly determined and refused to lose the game, even if he had lost his feet, and he said it with a smile.
It was an emotional victory for the Tropang Giga, who was seeking redemption after being beaten by the Kings in the 2020 Philippine Cup bubble finale. The championship was also a payback moment for them, and it tied their record with Toyota as the league’s sixth most-titled team. The Tropang Giga’s interim coach Jojo Lastimosa led the team to a Cinderella ride, and he couldn’t have been prouder of his boys.
Williams was named the Honda-PBA Press Corps Finals MVP for his outstanding performance throughout the finals. He had a scintillating showing, highlighted by his 38-point sizzler in the clincher.
After a 35-point effort through the first three quarters, Williams momentarily lost his momentum, but he came through with his ninth triple of the night just when the Kings grabbed a 93-92 lead on a 16-8 roll. His straightaway trey from way, way out shoved TNT ahead to stay with 1:15 left to play.
Although there were some bumps in the road, including two missed free throws by the Fil-Am hotshots with 43.6 ticks to go, Hollis-Jefferson and his teammates remained strong until the very end and prevented Ginebra from achieving a three-peat victory, handing Brownlee his first defeat in seven PBA finals.
Ultimately, the game came down to a showdown between Brownlee and Hollis-Jefferson.
Hollis-Jefferson emerged triumphant, Brownlee missed his last shot, and the TNT collared the winning rebound.
It was an incredible night for the Tropang Giga, who displayed their grit, determination, and heart on the court. They showed that with hard work and belief, anything is possible. The Tropang Giga’s fans will surely celebrate their victory and look forward to seeing more of their favorite team’s amazing performances.
TNT 97 – M. Williams 38, Hollis-Jefferson 29, Erram 6, Oftana 6, K. Williams 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Montalbo 3, Khobuntin 1.
Ginebra 93 – Brownlee 29, Malozno 21, Thompson 20, Standhardinger 16, Gray 4, Pinto 2, J.Aguilar 1, Mariano 0, Pringle 0.