The Tropang Giga dominated the Meralco Bolts in game three of their PBA Governors’ Cup best-of-five semifinals matchup.
The Tropa came out strong, putting the clamps on the Bolts and holding them to a miserable 10-of-40 field-goal shooting in the first half to build an insurmountable 26-point lead.
Led by the dynamic duo of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Mikey Williams, TNT refused to let up and ultimately secured a decisive 99-80 victory at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday, March 29.
Hollis-Jefferson was a force to be reckoned with, putting up an impressive 40 points and 13 rebounds to lead his team to a pivotal 2-1 lead in the series.
“We kept the faith and we stayed focused on the task,” said Hollis-Jefferson, who was clearly determined to get his team back on track after a tough overtime loss in their last matchup.
He said they knew what to do and went out there to execute the play.
Williams was equally impressive, contributing a sizzling 29-point performance to support his teammate and help seal the victory. “We stayed locked in for 48 minutes this time,” said Williams, clearly pleased with his team’s performance. “We fought hard on defense, and we found a way to pull through.”
Coach Jojo Lastimosa was thrilled with his team’s defensive effort, noting that they had embraced the belief that they could grind it out with the Bolts. “In Game 2, we threw away our defensive techniques. Tonight, we fought them in a defensive battle.
We gave so many drives to the basket, and you can see tonight it was more of a defensive game, and we didn’t even hit 100 points today, which is strange,” said Lastimosa.
The Bolts showed they can be as tough on defense as the Tropang Giga.
With the win, the Tropang Giga moved one step closer to a Last Dance showdown with the Barangay Ginebra Kings. The Kings secured their spot in the finals with a hard-fought 87-85 victory over San Miguel Beer earlier in the evening.
Lastimosa added, “They’re a defensive team, and we can also be a defensive grind-out team like tonight. Just credit to the coaches that devised a really great game plan for tonight, and we’re hoping to sustain that next game.”
For TNT, the focus now turns to game four, as they look to close out the series and earn their spot in the championship round. “We can’t get complacent,” said Hollis-Jefferson, expecting that the Bolts will come out fighting and they have to be ready for whatever they throw at them.
The two teams will clash again on Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with the Tropang Giga looking to finish what they started and claim their spot in the finals.
TNT 99 – Hollis-Jefferson 40, M.Williams 29, Pogoy 7, Castro 7, Oftana 4, Erram 4, Khobuntin 3, Montalbo 3, Chua 2, Varilla 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Meralco 80 – McDaniels 30, Newsome 12, Black 11, Hodge 11, Maliksi 4, Almazan 3, Caram 3, Pasaol 3, Jose 2, Quinto 1, Banchero 0, Pascual 0.