Castro trey saves TNT

Jayson Castro knocked down a dagger trey with only two seconds left as TNT Tropang Giga eked out a 93-92 win over Magnolia in Game 3 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup best-of seven semifinal series yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With a crucial series lead on the line, Castro negated what could have been a tough loss after Mark Barroca scored on a short stab jumper to give Magnolia a slim 92-90 with only 11 seconds remaining.

The 36-year-old veteran playmaker stepped up with 16 points and six assists to give the Tropang Giga a 2-1 advantage and moved a step closer from making a return trip to the finals.

JP Erram topscored TNT with 22 points, eight rebounds and three steals, while Mikey Williams and Glenn Khobuntin had 15 markers apiece.

“We have no illusions of this being an easy game; we know that there will be struggles along the way,” TNT head coach Chot Reyes said.

“We just kept our poise and told our players to stay in the game and wait for the opportunity.”

“I think that helped us in the end, we caught a break when Ian and Calvin fouled out. We almost lost but we won.”

It was Williams, Khobuntin, and Erram who sizzled from downtown in the second frame, quickly hitting seven triples to register a 47-41 cushion at the half.

But the Hotshots got their act together from the halftime huddle with Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang powering a 32-point third quarter to edge by seven points going to the final canto.

TNT got a lucky break as Roger Pogoy drained a contested floater that sent Abueva to his sixth foul, 85-82, with 4:29 remaining.

Despite Sangalang also fouling out, the Hotshots still banked on their defensive intensity as Barroca hit back-to-back baskets until Castro spoiled their hopes and nailed a three-pointer to steal the victory with only two seconds left.

Abueva fired 18 points, six assists and five rebounds, while Sangalang’s 17-point performance went down the drain for Magnolia, which will try to square the series in Game 4 on Wednesday.

The Scores:
TNT (93) — Erram 22, Castro 16, Khobuntin 15, M. Williams 15, Rosario 8, Pogoy 7, K. Williams 7, Montalbo 3, Reyes 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
MAGNOLIA (92) — Abueva 18, Sangalang 17, Barroca 15, Dionisio 10, Dela Rosa 9, Lee 9, Wong 6, Jalalon 4, Corpuz 2, Laput 2, Escoto 0.
QUARTERS: 18-24, 47-41, 66-73, 93-92.

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