Red-hot TNT holds off Meralco for 7th win

The red-hot and streaking Tropang Giga showed no signs of slowing down.

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson comes two assists shy of a triple-double for TNT. (PBA Images)

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Mikey Williams took turns in anchoring TNT’s vaunted offense to essay a masterful 111-104 win over Meralco in the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Friday, Feb. 17.

Playing in their second game in less than 48 hours, the Tropang Giga showed no letup and displayed the same tenacity on both ends of the floor as they extended their winning run to five and seized the top spot in the standing with a 7-1 record.

TNT clamped down on the defensive end in the second quarter, limiting Meralco to just 17 points while finding its groove on the offensive side following a 29-point explosion behind Hollis-Jefferson and Williams.

The Tropang Giga built a double-digit advantage at the break, 56-42, and even stretched the lead to its largest at 22, 84-62, proving to be enough to cushion a late fightback from the Bolts.

Hollis-Jefferson continued to display his NBA pedigree, flirting with a triple-double with his 34 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists while Williams provided the added scoring punch with 25 points.

Calvin Oftana picked up the slacks with 16 points after RR Pogoy saw limited action after spraining his ankle in the second quarter while Jayson Castro, after sitting out last game, added 16 points in his return.

“These guys know how to grind it out. Before the game I told them we are coming from back-to-back games and it’s going to be a struggle for them but thankfully the guys were ready,” said head coach Jojo Lastimosa.

Despite the seemingly one-sided affair after the first three quarters, Meralco didn’t want to go down without a fight as it made a last-ditch run in the final frame, cutting a once 15-point TNT lead, 104-89 with 3:29 left to single digits, 104-96, with 1:16 left.

Free throws from Castro and Hollis-Jefferson in the ensuing plays, however, restored order and took the fight out of Meralco in waning minutes.

KJ McDaniels posted a double-double of 26 points and 17 rebounds while Aaron Black and Chris Newsome finished with 21 and 20 points respectively but the Bolts still slid down to a 3-3 record in the standings.

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