By Ivan Stewart Saldajeno
(Courtesy of Araneta Coliseum Facebook)
MANILA – TNT claimed its first PBA Governors’ Cup championship after unseating Ginebra, 97-93, in Game 6 of the finals in front of 13,588 fans at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Friday night.
Mikey Williams exploded for 38 points on nine triples to lead the Tropang Giga, who survived crucial free throw misses in the endgame.
With the Tropang Giga up by two, 95-93, with 43.6 seconds left, Williams missed two free throws that could have given them a more comfortable cushion, even air-balling his second charity.
Justin Brownlee, however, lost possession for Ginebra while driving for the layup, and Poy Erram secured the ball to give TNT the ball with 30.6 seconds remaining.
Best Import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, finally enjoying a regular diet again following the end of the Ramadan, could not finish off Ginebra as he missed a layup and Jamie Malonzo sealed the rebound to give the Gin Kings a chance to force overtime with 10 seconds left.
Brownlee, though, missed a short jumper, and Hollis-Jefferson sealed the title for the Tropang Giga with two free throws, 3.2 seconds remaining.
“Huge credit to the coaching staff and the players,” said coach Jojo Lastimosa, who took over at the start of the conference from Chot Reyes, whose focus is on Gilas Pilipinas’ campaign in the FIBA Word Cup.
Williams, eventually named Finals Most Valuable Player, also had seven rebounds and three assists for TNT, which won its ninth PBA title overall.
Ginebra lost in a final for the first time under coach Tim Cone. It was Governors’ Cup champion in four of the previous five editions, not counting 2020 when the season was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Hollis-Jefferson added 29 points, 14 rebounds, six assists, and two steals.
Brownlee led Ginebra with 29 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, one steal, and two blocks.
Malonzo, who helped will Ginebra’s comeback from seven points down midway through the fourth quarter, added 21 points, six rebounds, two assists, and one block, while Scottie Thompson chipped in 20 points, eight rebounds, and nine assists.
TNT 97 – M.Williams 38, Hollis-Jefferson 29, Erram 6, Oftana 6, K.Williams 4, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Montalbo 3, Khobuntin 1.
GINEBRA 93 – Brownlee 29, Malozno 21, Thompson 20, Standhardinger 16, Gray 4, Pinto 2, J.Aguilar 1, Mariano 0, Pringle 0.
Quarters: 20-27, 48-51, 77-73, 97-93 (PNA)