TNT TNT Tropang Giga: Back as PBA champions. Photo by Ernie Sarmiento

TNT is PBA Governors’ Cup champion

April 22, 2023 Robert Andaya 1644 views
Lastimosa with Hollis Jefferson. Photo by Ernie Sarmiento

FIL-AM Mikey WIlliams provided the spark as TNT achieved another milestone by winning its first-ever PBA Governors’ Cup crown.

And the Tropang Giga did it by beating crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra, 97-93, in Game 6 before a huge Friday night crowd of 13, 588 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Williams finished with 38 points, including 9-of-18 shooting from the three-point area, in nearly 43 minutes to power the Tropang Giga to a 4- 2 win over the Kings in the best-of-seven series.

The last of Williams’ three-point barrage gave TNT a 95-93 lead with 1:15 remaining after Jamie Malonzo put Ginebra ahead for the last time at 93-92, with a slam 30 seconds earlier.

Williams was later named as the Finals MVP.

NBA veteran Rondae Hollis Jefferson also came through with a double-double of 27 points and 13 rebounds for the Tropang Giga, who won the last three games of the series to end the Kings’ two-year reign in the season-ending conference.

Hollis-Jefferson, who played for the Brooklyn Nets, Toronto Raptors and Portland Trailblazers in the NBA from 2015-2021, capped his game-long brilliance with two pressure-laden free throws with 3.2 seconds left to the delight of TNT crowd that included team owner Manny V. Pangilinan and PBA Chairman and Gov. Ricky Vargas.

Hollis-Jefferson, who scored 18 points in the second half alone, also won his first crown as a pro.

With the triumph, TNT captured its first-ever PBA Governors’ Cup since joining the league and taking over the Pepsi franchise in 1990.

Overall, it was the ninth PBA championship for TNT, tying the record of Toyota as the league’s sixth winningest team.

The Tropang Giga also ended the reign of the Kings, who won four of the last five editions of the Governors’ Cup.

TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa also won his first title as a coach.

“Going into the finals, I knew we have to come up with a better game to dethrone them and huge credit to the coaching staff and the players ,” said Lastimosa, who became only the sixth coach in PBA history to win a title right on his first confernece.

“It’s an amazing four months. I did not expect it. It’s really coach Chot’s team, so thank you guys,” added Lastimosa, who took over at the start of the conference to allow coach Chot Reyes to focus on his job as Gilas Pilipinas mentor.

Vargas, on the other hand, congratulated the TNT players and the coahcing staff for finally getting the job done.

“Salamat sa inyong lahat. Maski konti tayo, malakas tayo dahil naniniwala kayo. Salamat din sa Ginebra for giving us a tough time. It’s a great series. Champion na uli ang TNT,” said Vargas.

Three-time Best Import Justin Brownlee finished with a team-high 29 points, 12 rebounds and four assists exactly two days after leaving Game 5 due to food poisoning.

But the hard-working Ginebra import failed to save the day as he missed a possible game-tying basket with only four seconds remaining.

Malonzo added 21 points and six rebounds, while Scottie Thompson contributed 20 points, nine assists and eight rebounds.

Best Player of the Conference Christian Standhardinger had 16 points, nine rebounds and eight assists

The scores:

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, Malonzo 21, Thompson 20, Standhardinger 16, Gray 4, Pinto 2, J.Aguilar 1, Mariano 0, Pringle 0
Quarterscores: 20-27, 48-51, 77-73, 97-93.