TNT lived up to its billing as king of Philippine Basketball Association 3×3 when it captured the First Conference championship at the expense of Platinum Karaoke Sunday night at Robinsons Place Novaliches.
The Tropang Giga leaned on the clutch baskets of Almond Vosotros and Gyrann Mendoza down the stretch to take the close 20-17 victory and capped a dominant campaign in the opening tournament of Season 2.
Mendoza scored on a layup with 19 seconds to go in the grand finale to break the game’s final deadlock, after which Vosotros put the final nail on the coffin by hitting two-for-two from the line to run away with the title and the P750,000 prize money.
Vosotros led the team with eight points, Mendoza added seven, while big man Lervin Flores and Ping Exciminiano had three and two points, respectively, for TNT, which became the first team to win two conference championships in the standalone tournament.
“We take our practices seriously and we make sure to duplicate our feat in the previous conference,” TNT coach Mau Belen said.
The Tropang Giga ended their Season 1 campaign by claiming the Third Conference championship behind a dramatic overtime win over Purefoods TJ Titans.
Then they picked up from where they left off as the team topped three out of the six legs at stake in the First Conference of the new season, making the Tropang Giga the No. 1 seeded team heading into the grand finals.
TNT routed NorthPort in the quarterfinals, 21-11, and then turned back fourth seed Cavitex in the semis, 21-16, to earn a return trip to the finals.
Platinum Karaoke, meanwhile, went up the ladder after going through the pool play, and proved it is for real when it hacked out a 19-15 grind-out win against No. 3 J&T Express in the quarterfinals.
In the semis, the team of coach Anton Altamirano survived Meralco by the skin of its teeth, 16-15, to arrange the finals showdown with TNT.
Platinum fell early on, 5-0, but clawed its way back and even led, 15-14, after two free throws by Nico Salva inside the final two minutes.