TNT clinches last PBA playoff berth after taking down Phoenix

RR Pogoy and TNT just punched a ticket to the PBA playoffs (PBA)

By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña

The TNT Tropang Giga rode the last bus to the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoff stage after scoring a comeback win over the Phoenix Fuel Masters, 116-96, last January 14, 2024, held at the PhilSports Arena.

After trailing by double digits in the first half, the Tropang Giga squad made timely adjustments to dominate the last two-quarters of the crucial playoff eliminator game.

TNT was put in a must-win situation to salvage a last ticket to the quarterfinals. If they lost that game against Phoenix, they would be relegated to the sudden death match against the NLEX Road Warriors for the final playoff spot.

Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson was a man on a mission for the Tropang Giga after asserting his mastery on both ends of the floor.

After four grueling quarters, the brother of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson stuffed the stat sheets and finished with 35 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists, and three steals.

It was RHJ who provided the much-needed offensive spark in the game that fueled TNT to their massive offensive run in the second half.

Aside from RHJ’s scoring clinic, the returning RR Pogoy also stole the show after missing the first 10 games due to a rare heart condition.

According to the medical results, Pogoy was diagnosed with myocarditis, an inflammation of the heart muscle (myocardium).

However, TNT’s medical team assessed Pogoy once again and gave him the green light to resume playing basketball.

Pogoy didn’t need any warmups and quickly let his presence felt with his perimeter offense and ended up with 11 points, three assists, and two steals.

Also stepping up for TNT were Calvin Oftana who chipped in 19 markers, rookie Kim Aurin with a season-high 18 points, and point guard Brian Heruela with 14 points and four assists.