TNT’s Jayson Castro fires the Hail Mary triple that made the difference and gave a much-needed 2-1 edge for team TNT over Magnolia. (Photo courtesy of ESPN)
By Cip D.C. Cabrera
QUEZON CITY, Metro Manila — Point guard Jayson Castro nailed a Hail Mary triple in the dying seconds and Talk ‘n’ Text (TNT) escaped with a cardiac 93-92 win over Magnolia and a 2-1 lead in their 2022 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series on Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Castro, known as ‘The Blur,’ has actually done this in the past—save his team from the brink of defeat—and that opportunity shone again on him into the last 9.8 seconds in Game 3 on Sunday.
Shooting with confidence under a Kelly Williams screen, TNT’s savior found a good spot to score the winning triple with just 2.4 seconds left.
“The (play) was run the way we exactly wanted it,” TNT head coach Chot Reyes enthused after drawing up the crucial offensive play.
In the other game, the San Miguel Beermen got another strong start from CJ Perez before going down low to June Mar Fajardo to take down a fighting Meralco quintet, 96-91, for a similar commanding 2-1 lead in the other semifinal duel.
Perez scored 13 of his game-high 26 points in the opening period before Fajardo took advantage of the fouls he drew against the rugged Bolts defense in the second half that paved the way for the Beermen to wrest back the advantage in the best-of-seven affair.
Fajardo scored 21 markers on 11-of-16 free throws and grabbed 16 rebounds for SMB.
Jericho Cruz (15 points), Vic Manuel (11 points and seven rebounds) and Mo Tautuaa (eight points) were also instrumental in the Beermen’s triumph despite attempts by the Bolts to erase a 10-point fourth quarter deficit.
TNT 93 — Erram 22, Castro 16, Khobuntin 15, Williams M. 15, Rosario 8, Pogoy 7, Williams K. 7, Montalbo 3, Reyes 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
Magnolia 92 — Abueva 18, Sangalang 17, Barroca 15, Dionisio 10, Dela Rosa 9, Lee 9, Wong 6, Jalalon 4, Corpuz 2, Laput 2, Escoto 0.
Quarters: 18-24, 47-41, 66-73, 93-92.
San Miguel 96 — Perez 26, Fajardo 21, Cruz 15, Manuel 11, Ross 8, Tautuaa 8, Brondial 4, Lassiter 3, Enciso 0, Herndon 0.
Meralco 91 — Newsome 16, Maliksi 15, Black 15, Hodge 12, Jose 9, Banchero 8, Quinto 4, Almazan 4, Pasaol 2, Baclao 2.
Quarters: 25-24, 46-42, 71-66, 96-91.