KaTropa regain series lead
NorthPort’s Jerramy King, left, and Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson both show grit in their battle for possession in their game Wednesday. The Kings scored a 132-105 rout to grab the 2-1 lead in their side of the semis.
KaTropa regain series lead
Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - December 20, 2019 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — TNT KaTropa outsteadied the Meralco Bolts in a roller-coaster Game 3 that culminated in a wild finish, 101-97, to zero in on a trip to the PBA Governors’ Cup finals last night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Despite his offensive struggles, import KJ McDaniels delivered when it mattered most and scored on an acrobatic tip-in that gave the KaTropa a 100-97 cushion going to the last 36 seconds. 

Coach Bong Ravena’s wards then held on as Meralco bungled their last two offensives, including a freak miscue that saw Allen Durham releasing the leather to Cliff Hodge, who was standing on the bench with 11 ticks to go.

“Tough game for both squads. It was anybody’s ball game,” said a relieved Ravena as the KaTropa took the 2-1 lead in the race-to-three-games semis duel.

McDaniels was held to two points in the first half but picked it up in the final 24 minutes and finished with 18 overall, making 10 of them in the payoff period.

With their import’s limited production, Troy Rosario took the cudgels with 25 points spiked by five triples, while Jayson Castro (17), RR Pogoy (15), Ray Parks (12) and relievers Ryan Reyes (nine) and Samboy de Leon (five) did their share.

“McDaniels was struggling but his rebounding was there (14) and the locals led by Troy stepped up,” said Ravena.

Durham had 32-19-5 for the Bolts, who are now hard-pressed to score a big bounceback on Saturday to force a deciding Game 5.

TNT emerged victorious in a seesaw battle, the first close contest after routs in Games 1 and 2.

The Bolts got the better of the exchanges in the early goings, building on their stifling defense that held McDaniels to just two through two quarters.

Up by just one, Meralco rattled five unanswered points to end the first with a 29-23 cushion then the Bolts leaned on Durham’s 15-point barrage in the second to widen the gap to as many as 13 at 42-29.

But the KaTropa came out of the break with guns blazing, turning the tables around with a 35-20 exchange in third en route to a 77-71 spread and stayed ahead of Meralco in the windup.

The scores: 

TNT 101 – Rosario 25, McDaniels 18, Castro 17, Pogoy 15, Parks 12, Reyes 9, De Leon 5, Digregorio 0, Williams 0, Vosotros 0.

Meralco 97 – Durham 32, Newsome 20, Amer 19, Quinto 8, Pinto 5, Caram 4, Almazan 4, Hodge 3, Maliksi 2, Faundo 0. 

Quarterscores: 23-29, 42-51, 77-71, 101-97

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