TNT pulls late rally to eliminate Ginebra

By Ivan Saldajeno

PASAY--All it took was a blistering late fourth quarter run, and TNT heads to the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals.

The KaTropa officially eliminated the Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 122-109, in Game 4 of their semifinal affair at the Cuneta Astrodome on Saturday night.

TNT closed out the game on a 19-3 run that countered Ginebra's huge comeback that could have forced a Game 5 on Monday night.

The KaTropa took an 84-72 lead early into the third quarter before the Barangay crawled back and led by five, 103-98, with 8:47 remaining.

Ranidel De Ocampo scored five straight points to tie the game at 103 apiece before LA Tenorio buried a triple that gave Ginebra its last taste of the lead at 106-103 with 7:39 to play.

A layup from Joshua Smith sparked the deciding 19-1 run that put the KaTropa back up for good, 122-107, with 1:49 remaining, rendering the Barangay without a field goal for almost six minutes.

Jayson Castro exploded for 38 points, 11 assists, seven rebounds, and two steals for TNT, which will take on San Miguel in the Finals beginning Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City.

Smith bucked the lingering pain on his foot and added 18 points, five rebounds, two assists, and one block, while RR Garcia chipped in 16 points, five rebounds, and five assists off the bench.

Justin Brownlee tallied 25 points, 15 rebounds, seven assists, three blocks, and one steal for Ginebra, which despite dishing 29 assists only made 41 percent of its shots compared to TNT's 53 percent.

Box Scores:

TNT 122-Castro 38, Smith 18, Garcia 16, Williams 14, Pogoy 13, De Ocampo 9, Semerad 5, Tautuaa 4, Reyes 3, Rosales 2, Rosario 0

Ginebra 109-Aguilar 31, Brownlee 25, Tenorio 20, Devance 14, Thompson 10, Ellis 6, Marcelo 2, Mercado 1, Ferrer 0

Quarterscores: 29-35, 66-63, 95-92, 122-109