The TNT Tropang Giga outlasted the Magnolia Chicken Timplados, 78-72, to open their title-retention campaign in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup on a rousing note on Sunday night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Veteran guard Jayson Castro took over down the stretch, scoring one big bucket after another to push TNT to a win over the very same team they toppled for the crown in the last Philippine Cup.
Clinging to a one-point lead, Castro scored an and-one to extend their lead to four, 83-79 with 1:40 remaining. Then, after Ian Sangalang scored to pull Magnolia to within two, Castro got fouled and made two from the line to push TNT in front, 85-81, with 53 seconds to go.
Versatile forward Troy Rosario had 22 points and 10 rebounds to go with two blocks as TNT went on a telling run late in the fourth to seal the victory despite the absence of Rookie of the Year Mikey Williams and defensive stalwart Kelly Williams. The younger Williams is still negotiating his new contract with the team.
“Obviously, without our most potent offensive weapon, we had to rely on our defense. The only way we can win games is to limit the production and scoring of the other team. Fortunately, that’s what happened,” shared TNT coach Chot Reyes after the match.
Sangalang led Magnolia with 18 points and 10 boards, while Mark Barroca added 14 markers and five rebounds. Calvin Abueva also had a double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds.
Meanwhile, Ginebra’s Scottie Thompson was named the Most Valuable Player of PBA Season 46, besting the likes of Williams, Abueva, and NorthPort’s Robert Bolick. Thompson became the first Ginebra player to win the award since the legendary Mark Caguioa achieved the feat back in 2012.
The 6-foot-2 wingman amassed a total of 2,836 points from votes from the players, media and the league itself. Williams was a distant second with just 1,332 points. Bolick garnered 1,295, whole Abueva got 1,066.
The Mythical First Team was composed of Williams, Abueva, Thompson, Arwind Santos of NorthPort, and June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel.
The Mythical Second Team had Bolick, CJ Perez of San Miguel, Christian Standhardinger of Barangay Ginebra, Matthew Wright of Phoenix Super LPG, and Ian Sangalang of Magnolia.
Juami Tiongson of Terrafirma won the Most Improved Player plum, while Kevin Alas of NLEX nabbed the Samboy Lim Sportsmanship Award.
The ageless Santos also nabbed a spot on the All-Defensive Team alongside TNT’s Kelly Williams, Cliff Hodge of Meralco, Jio Jalalon of Magnolia, and Chris Ross of San Miguel.