By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The TNT Tropang Giga defied the odds in the highly-anticipated Game 2 of the ongoing PBA Governor’s Cup grand finals after taming Ginebra, 95-82, to level the series at 1-1 last April 12, 2023, held at the SMART Araneta Coliseum.
Playing without their starting center Justin Chua who was diagnosed with a torn ACL in his knee, the Tropang Giga left it all on the court and showed tremendous heart going up against the bigger Ginebra team.
Stepping up to accept the challenge was Roger Pogoy who became a silent gunner last Game 1 and took over with his 17 markers.
Admitted that he was gassed guarding Justin Brownlee and the rest of Ginebra’s perimeter rotation, Pogoy made sure he’ll bounce back and put up his usual numbers.
The sweet-shooting guard picked his spots well against the patient Ginebra defense and was the key to their huge second-half rally.
Backstopping Pogoy was Mikey Williams who led the TNT assault in the fourth quarter, dropping 21 points including a personal counter that answered three-straight Ginebra baskets in the last five minutes of the ball game.
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson also did his thing and stuffed the stat sheets with 23 points, 19 rebounds, and nine assists.
Also one of the biggest factors during TNT’s Game 2 win was how they defended Brownlee who only managed to tally 12 points.
It was a different defensive scheme from their Game 1 loss as the Tropang Giga defenders decided to play Ginebra’s resident import physically and didn’t give him any room to breathe once he was trapped in the baseline.
As a result of TNT’s suffocating defense, Brownlee only converted three shots out of his 16 field goal attempts, one of his worst PBA Finals shooting performance.
“The guy here put all his energy on defending Brownlee. I told Rondae at halftime, even if he doesn’t score as much for as long as Brownlee doesn’t score, other guys are going to pick up the scoring for him,” said TNT head coach Jojo Lastimosa.
Calvin Oftana, TNT’s energy guy off-the-bench, also continued his consistent outing and poured in 14 points, 13 rebounds, and two steals.
On the other hand, the Gin Kings were top-scored by Christian Standhardinger who had 29 points and 11 rebounds while reigning MVP Scottie Thompson had 16 points and 10 boards.