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TNT Tropang Giga routs Phoenix, 116-96, wins last ticket to quarterfinals

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LAST TICKET. The TNT Tropang Giga books the last ticket to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals by eking out a 116-96 victory over Phoenix Super LPG at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig on Sunday, January 14, 2024. PBA PHOTO

The TNT Tropang Giga clinched the final spot in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals with a convincing 116-96 victory over the Phoenix Super LPG at the PhilSports Arena in Pasig on Sunday, January 14, 2024. 

The win not only secured their berth but also spared them from a knockout duel with NLEX, sending the Road Warriors packing from the competition.

The timely return of Jayson Castro and RR Pogoy added extra firepower to the Tropang Giga’s arsenal, and it proved to be the difference-maker in their decisive clash against the Fuel Masters. 

With this win, TNT completed the playoffs picture, joining the ranks of early qualifiers, including Phoenix itself.

The top four teams in the standings – Magnolia, San Miguel Beer, Barangay Ginebra, and Phoenix – earned the coveted twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals. 

As the eighth seed, TNT now faces a formidable challenge against top-seeded Magnolia, requiring back-to-back victories to advance to the Final Four.

Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was the star of the show for the Tropang Giga, putting on a dazzling performance with 35 points, 11 assists, and nine rebounds. 

His near-triple-double effort showcased the team’s determination to break free from a recent three-game slump and finish the elimination round on a high note, concluding with a 5-6 record.

TNT’s long-range shooting proved to be a lethal weapon, with three-pointers igniting their breakaway in the second half. The third quarter was particularly impressive, as they outscored Phoenix 37-25, setting the stage for a commanding 28-18 run in the final quarter. 

Calvin Oftana, Brian Heruela, Kim Aurin, and the returning RR Pogoy all contributed significantly, each connecting on at least three triples.

Pogoy, making a triumphant comeback after recovering from an ailment, contributed 11 points, three rebounds, and three assists in just 20 minutes of action. 

Jayson Castro, returning from a prolonged absence, made his presence felt with a timely three-pointer in his 10 minutes on the court.

The victory not only secured TNT’s quarterfinal berth but also showcased their resilience and depth as they gear up for a challenging showdown against Magnolia. 

With momentum on their side and key players back in the lineup, the Tropang Giga is poised to make a statement in the pursuit of PBA Commissioner’s Cup glory.

The boxscores:

TNT 116 – Hollis-Jefferson 35, Oftana 19, Aurin 18, Heruela 14, Pogoy 11, Galinato 6, K. Williams 4, castro 3, Tungcab 3, Montalbo 3, Cruz 0, Tolomia 0, Khobuntin 0, Ponferrada 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.

Phoenix 96 – J.Williams 21, Alejandro 12, Tio 10, Manganti 10, Perkins 9, Rivero 7, Soyud 6, Jazul 5, Daves 4, Mocon 4, Tuffin 4, Verano 3, Muyang 1, Camacho 0, Lalata 0, Garcia 0.

Quarterscores: 23-27, 51-53, 88-78, 116-96

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