By REYNALD MAGALLON
Rondae Hollis-Jefferson sparked a massive second half as TNT moved one away from claiming the only missing jewel to its championship collection following a 104-95 victory over Ginebra in Game 5 of the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday, April 19.
Hollis-Jefferson was all over the floor that resulted to a huge triple-double of 32 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
He keyed the team’s mighty third quarter attack that saw them outscore the Gin Kings, 32-18, thus erasing a 15-point first half deficit to be the first team to win in a back-to-back game in the series and take a 3-2 lead.
Hollis-Jefferson dropped 20 of his total in the second half – the same stretch when TNT pounced on the absence of Justin Brownlee who headed back to the Kings dugout late in the third frame.
The resident Ginebra import was reportedly suffering from food poisoning and although still managed to play through the first half, he cannot anymore continue for the rest of the game.
Despite Brownlee’s absence though, Ginebra still put up a fight in the final frame behind the efforts of Christian Standhardinger and Nards Pinto. The Kings still threatened and cut the deficit down just one, 95-96 after being down by as many as nine points early in the fourth.
However, timely hits from Hollis-Jefferson, Jayson Castro and Glen Khobuntin took the fight out of the defending champions as they trailed 2-3 in a series after a 2-2 deadlock for the first time in Tim Cone era.
Calvin Oftana had a stellar performance for the second-straight game, dropping 20 points and eight rebounds as he conspired with Hollis-Jefferson during the fiery 25-8 start in the third.
Mikey Williams added 15 points. Three other Tropang Giga also finished in double-figures with Castro, Khobuntin and JP Erram all finishing with 10 points.
Standhardinger tried to hold the fort in lieu of Brownlee with 29 points and 13 rebounds but couldn’t get much help from his usual contributors in Scottie Thompson and Jamie Malonzo who were both hampered by foul trouble and could only muster 12 points combined.
Also picking up the slack was the surprise start in John Pinto who added 18 points while Brownlee finished with 14 before exiting the game for good.
TNT 104 – Hollis-Jefferson 32, Oftana 20, M.Williams 15, Khobuntin 10, Castro 10, Erram 10, K.Williams 5, Montalbo 2, Marcelo 0.
GINEBRA 95 – Standhardinger 29, Pinto 18, Brownlee 14, Thompson 12, Gray 10, Malonzo 6, Pringle 6, J.Aguilar 0, Mariano 0.
Quarters: 28-26, 49-61, 81-79, 104-95.