By Leobert Julian A. de la Peña
The TNT Tropang Giga pulled off a stunning second-half comeback to force overtime and nipped the Rain or Shine Elastopainters, 89-85, for their second-straight win in the ongoing 2022 PBA Philippine Cup.
Down by 16 after a Leonard Santillan breakaway layup with 5:27 remaining in the third quarter, the Tropang Giga used their veteran experience and balanced scoring attack to flip the switch in the remaining 16 minutes of the game.
It only took six minutes of patient offensive display for TNT to cut the double-digit lead to nine, 62-53, after a Troy Rosario tip-in that kicked off Tropang Giga’s resilient fight back in the final canto.
Although Rain or Shine was able to put up some points and ballooned their lead to 10 again, the reigning Rookie of the Year Mikey Williams, RR Pogoy, Poy Erram, and Rosario kept TNT in the game.
Sophomore Mike Nieto of the Elastopainters looked to send in an early exclamation point after hitting a difficult turn-around jump shot during the 2:41 mark of the game but superstar point guard Jason Castro put the whole team on his shoulders and scored back-to-back triples to trim their deficit to just four points.
Rain or Shine lost gas in the final two minutes of the ball game and went scoreless despite numerous attempts from Rey Nambatac, Beau Belga, and Gian Mamuyac.
With one minute left in the game, the Tropang Giga capitalized on Rain or Shine’s collapse and scored four straight points to force an extra period.
The Elastopainters suddenly came alive in overtime and took the early lead courtesy of Mamuyac’s two-way plays including a crucial tap steal that was turned into a basket but Williams responded with a huge trey at the top of the key to deadlock the game at 83-all.
With TNT needing a basket to finally take the lead, Erram was in the right spot and scored the go-ahead put-back after Rosario missed his three from the corner.
Rain or Shine failed to score again in the clutch stretch of the overtime period and couldn’t buy a basket in the final minute that sealed the deal for the Tropang Giga.
TNT was led by Rosario’s 19 points and was backstopped by Williams with 15, Erram with 13, and 12 points-apiece from Pogoy and Castro.