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TNT trips Meralco, stops skid

Photograph by Joey Sanchez Mendoza for the Daily Tribune @tribunephl_joey Calvin Oftana and TNT get past Meralco, 92-90, in their PBA Philippine Cup game Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Games on Wednesday:

(Ninoy Aquino Stadium)

4:30 p.m. — San Miguel Beer vs Terrafirma

7:30 p.m. — Magnolia vs NorthPort

Calvin Oftana nailed the shots that mattered the most after a cold spell in the second half to rescue TNT from a two-game slide at the expense of Meralco, 92-90, in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup Sunday at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium.

Oftana, who went scoreless in the third quarter after putting in 19 points in the first half, made seven of the last nine points of the Tropang Giga to overcome the Bolts’ second half resurgence and get back on the winning track for an even 3-3 win-loss record.

The victory gave TNT the much-needed lift after a 16-point blowout against NorthPort last Friday.

“Yesterday we didn’t practice. We just walked through some stuff for about 30 minutes because we said our problems were not technical. Our problems are really the intangibles so we just left it at that yesterday at practice,” TNT coach Chot Reyes said of his team blowing hot and cold in the All-Filipino conference.

“Today, I just asked the players how much they want it, if they are willing to put in the effort and beat a great defensive team a physical team like Meralco. Apparently, the players responded.”

Oftana, who finished with 26 points from 9-of-16 field goal shooting including 6-of-8 from downtown and grabbed nine rebounds, was the one who stepped up big time.

Meralco held an 87-84 advantage with 3:24 left in the game after erasing TNT’s 13-point third quarter lead but Oftana rallied the Tropang Giga back by sinking two charities before draining his sixth triple of the game — his only long bomb in the second half after going 5-for-5 in the second quarter — to put his team back on top, 89-87, with 2:06 left.

Jason Castro then split his charities and after TNT forced Meralco to a 24-second shot clock violation, Oftana scored on a layup for a 92-87 gap with 45.6 seconds left.

Bong Quinto completed a three-point play for Meralco on the other end, Castro missed his shot before RR Pogoy blocked Aaron Black’s layup attempt that would’ve tied the game with 7.2 ticks left. The Bolts retained possession for one last play but a cold Jolo Mendoza saw his three-pointer hit the base of the rim as time expired.

Castro had 15 points, Kelly Williams got 11 points and 13 boards while Pogoy and Henry Galinato added 11 points each for TNT.
Meralco saw its two-game winning run halted to slide down to a 3-4 mark.

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