(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. – Globalport vs Star
6:45 p.m. – Ginebra vs Alaska
TNT KaTropa used a strong second half to score a thrilling 98-95 victory against Meralco in the season-ending PBA Governors’ Cup yesterday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Veteran guard Jayson Castro fired a personal conference-best 24 points, while import Mario Little added 14 points with 11 rebounds as they helped TNT rally back from a 10-point deficit in this Petron Saturday Special.
TNT fell behind by 10 points (55-65) with seven minutes left in the third frame when Castro connived with former Gilas Pilipinas teammate Ranidel de Ocampo and rookie guard Chris Rosales.
By the end of the period, the game was tied at 74-all.
Meralco trimmed the deficit to only three points, 95-98, when import Allen Durhan converted his two free throws off a foul by Harvey Carey with 53 seconds to play. The Bolts had several chances to tie the game.
After the two teams exchanged missed shots and turnovers, the Bolts had one last opportunity to level the score but forward Jared Dillinger missed a three-point shot as time expired.
With the win, TNT improved its record to 2-0 to tie Mahindra and defending champion San Miguel Beer for the early lead, while Meralco now sports a 2-1 card in the standings.
Asian reinforcement Michael Madanley finished with 14 points, while Rosales – signed prior to the season-ending conference after playing for Singapore Slingers in the ASEAN Basketball League (ABL) – had 13 points.
“Kris has been a very good reliever for Jayson. Now we have some break and then we prepare for (our next game against) Alaska,” added Uichico, whose team still misses the services of injured players Kelly Williams (knee) and Matt Ganuelas-Rosser (shoulder).
Meanwhile, Globalport and Barangay Ginebra San Miguel parade their new reinforcements when they face separate opponents as action continues today at the Big Dome.
Ginebra will have former St. John’s standout Justin Brownlee as import when the Kings face Alaska at 6:45 p.m., while Globalport will rely on Mike Glover when the Batang Pier battle the Star Hotshots at 4:30 p.m.
The 6-foot-5 Brownlee replaced the injured Paul Harris, who suffered a compound fracture on his right thumb in their opening game against Globalport, which Ginebra won 93-81.
As for Glover, he replaced Dominique Sutton, who – according to team manager Bonnie Tan – has been invited last week for a workout by defending NBA champion Cleveland Cavaliers.
TNT KATROPA 98 – Castro 24, Little 14, Madanly 14, Rosales 13, De Ocampo 9, Tautuaa 8, Reyes R. 6, Carey 5, Fonacier 5.
MERALCO 95 – Hodge 18, Dillinger 15, Durham 14, Alapag 11, Jamshidi 10, Newsome 9, Hugnatan 8, Nabong 8, Buenafe 2, Caram 0, Faundo 0.
Quarters: 30-24, 50-52, 74-74, 98-95.