TNT avoids series collapse against Meralco after Game 3 overtime win
Paul Lintag on Jun 09, 2017 10:34 PM
Joshua Smith scored 31 points and grabbed 27 rebounds as the KaTropa flipped the switch against Meralco in overtime to win their best-of-3 series, 2-1.
TNT managed to once again force overtime against Meralco.
And this time, the KaTropa weren't choking this one away.
TNT handled its business in extra time to pull off a 104-96 win in Game 3 of their 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup quarterfinal series against the Bolts Friday at the Big Dome.
In avoiding another series collapse against Meralco, the KaTropa arranged a race-to-3 duel against no. 1 Brgy. Ginebra in the semifinals of the mid-season joust.
TNT relied on import Joshua Smith and Jayson Castro all game long as the team once again played from behind before finding just enough offense, and good luck, to force overtime.
Smith was a dominant force and finished with 31 points and 27 rebounds while Castro likewise dropped 31, winning his personal duel with Meralco's Baser Amer.
After a failed attempth to steal Game 2 in overtime, TNT appeared to be on its way to an easy win in the decider after opening up a 15-point lead in the first quarter, 28-13.
But Amer once again came through for the Bolts, scoring 12 in the second period, to give Meralco the upperhand it would not surrender until the game's final moments.
With Meralco holding on to a one-point lead, 89-88, with six seconds to go, Chris Newsome would botch the inbound play forcing the Bolts to foul Castro.
The Blur would end up splitting his free throws as the game went to OT for the second straight time in the series.
"You can't really give up early. Sabi namin hangga't hindi tapos palagi may chance," head coach Nash Racela said.
"In the end we just wanted to force a turnover so the ball gets back to us and hopefully have a chance sa huli. Good thing for us they fouled Jayson. Good thing they fouled him and we were able to force overtime," he added of that final turnover by Newsome.
TNT would hold Meralco to only one field goal in the first 4:35 of overtime to seal the win and move on to the semifinals for the third straight conference.
Leading by as many as 14 points in the second half, the Bolts failed to close out TNT in the fourth quarter, allowing another close finish.
After scoring a career-high 32 points in Game 2, Amer finished Game 3 with 25 points but went scoreless in OT. Jared Dillinger added 20.
TNT 104 - Castro 31, Smith 31, Pogoy 13, Reyes 8, De Ocampo 7, Garcia 7, Williams 6, Semerad 1, Rosario 0, Rosales 0, Carey 0, Tautuaa 0.
MERALCO 96 - Amer 25, Dillinger 20, Stepheson 15, Hugnatan 12, Newsome 7, Hodge 6, Caram 6, Daquioag 3, Nabong 2, Uyloan 0.
Quarterscores: 29-19, 38-43, 66-73, 89-89, 104-96.
Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintga8