Ugly win against gusty Elasto Painters did the job
Glen Rice Jr. scored 34 points to lead TNT. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
Talk N Text had the chance to make this match-up wrapped in one game. They failed. They came short. Now, both the KaTropa and the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters will have to battle it out for the final time to know who between the two teams will earn the honor of meeting the already-waiting Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings in the semifinals.
Both teams struggled to hold onto the lead, especially in the second half. Both teams didn’t shoot better than 50% in the field in the endgame. But against all odds, the Talk N Text KaTropa prevented an upset by eliminating the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters on a 118-114 victory that booked the KaTropa a slot in the semifinals for a chance to dethrone the defending champions, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings.
As everyone was expecting them to do, the Talk N Text KaTropa came out firing early in the first quarter as they made 6 of their first 7 attempts to hold an 8-point lead but the Elasto Painters’ offense finally started to click in and bridged the gap at 21-18 on Mark Borboran’s 3-point play. Right after TNT increased their edge back 8, Chris Tiu later brought it down to two on his 3-point shot with 1:19 to play in the first. Mark Borboran ended the opening chapter with a three-pointer to beat the buzzer to tie the score at 27 all. Borboran already 9 points to lead all scorers while TNT’s import, Glen Rice Jr. 8 points during the first 12 minutes. of play.
If TNT was firing on all cylinders in the first quarter, the beginning of the second was a little different as the defense of Rain or Shine forced the KaTropa to turn the ball over multiple times or take highly-contested shots that missed the basket. Later, J’Nathan Bullock drained a jumper to make 42-35 in favor of the Elasto Painters, their biggest lead in the first half.
The Blur, Jayson Castro nailed a 3-pointer in the ensuing possessions to bring his team within 1, at 43-42 and then added a pair of free throws to give TNT a one-point lead with under 5 minutes before the break. The lead switched hands multiple times as both teams struggled to mount scoring runs as both teams every made basket with another basket and, every missed shot with another missed shot. As a result, both teams headed into the break with the score tied at 59 apiece after Jericho Cruz made a buzzer-beating jumper for the Elasto Painters.
Both teams were shooting relatively good percentages with TNT making 45% of their attempts in the first half while Rain or Shine converted 51% of their own. Glen Rice Jr. led the KaTropa with 18 points while Jayson Castro added 16 points which include 8 free throws and two from beyond the arc. Bullock on the other hand, scored 15 first-half points while Beau Belga added 12.
What was the difference that worked for TNT? Free throw shooting. As a team, TNT attempted 25 free throws in the first half alone, making 20 of them. In contrast, Rain or Shine only made 7 of their 9 attempts from the free throw line.
It took almost two minutes into the 3rd quarter before either team scored, a spell that was by broken by Glen Rice Jr. a lay-up and J’Nathan Bullock on a pair of charities at the other end. After Bullock nailed a long one off a lucky bounce, Anthony Semerad answered a three-pointer of his own to increase TNT’s advantage to 5 which was later trimmed down to 1 anew off a Mark Borboran lay-up with 5:06 to go, forcing TNT Coach Nash Racela to call for a timeout. The rest of the 3rd quarter became a free throw shooting contest as both teams struggled to make any notable run. The Elasto Painters had an 86-85 lead entering the final quarter
Chris Tiu and Gabe Norwood drained a three-pointer each to open the fourth quarter to give Rain or Shine, a 7-point lead, prompting TNT to call for another with barely 2 minutes into the quarter. A pair of threes from Ryan Reyes and Anthony Semerad enabled the KaTropa to grab the lead at 102-100 with under 6 minutes to work with.
From that point on, the match became a shootout as Jericho Cruz added another trey for Rain or Shine to tie the score at 105 apiece with less than 4 minutes to play. The Elasto Painter later regained the lead after a Norwood trey but TNT went on a 5-0 scoring run that made it 112-108, in favor of the KaTropa approaching the final two-minute mark.
Then, Beau Belga and Jericho Cruz combined for Rain or Shine next 4 points to tie the score, again, at 112 all. Two free throws from Bullock gave Rain or Shine the edge, at 114-112 with 46 seconds to go. 3 seconds later, Castro drew J’Nathan Bullock’s 5th foul and drained the ensuing free throws. After the Elasto Painter failed to score on their next possession, Glen Rice Jr. tipped back Castro’s air-balled trey which gave KaTropa the lead, at 116-114 with 10 ticks to play. A bad pass by Bullock enabled TNT to dribble away the clock as Ryan Reyes made two more charities to end the game.
Glen Rice Jr. came out of his shooting slump to finish with 34 points, 16 rebounds and 9 assists. Jayson Castro, despite making 3 of his 11 field goal attempts, finished with 20 points, built on 12 free throws. He also dished away 12 assists in the game. Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy added 18 and 16 respectively while Kelly Williams scored 10 points. Points off turnovers were one of the reasons why the KaTropa prevented Rain or Shine from running away especially in the 4th quarter. In addition to this, TNT held a 38-32 advantage in points in the paint.
Rain or Shine on the other hand, was led by Bullock’s 30 points. Beau Belga scored 18 to lead the bench players of the Elasto Painters who, for the second straight game, outscored the bench players of TNT, 54-20. Gabe Norwood finished with 14 while Jericho Cruz added 11 points and 10 rebounds.
TNT – 118
Rice Jr. 34, Castro 20, Rosario 18, Pogoy 16, Willams 10, Semerad 8, Reyes 5, Carey 4, Tautuaa 3, Golla 0, Nuyles 0, Hernandez 0, Lingganay 0, Seigle 0, Chua 0
Rain or Shine – 114
Bullock 30, Belga 18, Borboran 15, Norwood 14, Cruz 11, Tiu 10, Ahanmisi 7, Trollano 5, Almazan 4, Maiquez 0, Ponferada 0, Yap 0, Robles 0, Matias 0, King 0, Daquioag 0
27-27, 59-59, 85-86, 118-114