|Troy Rosario had his best performance so far in the PBA Governors' Cup semifinals. PBA Media Group|
By Ivan Saldajeno
MANILA--TNT moved to within a win from clinching a spot in the PBA Governors' Cup finals after pipping Meralco, 101-97, in Game 3 of their semifinal series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Thursday night.
The KaTropa came alive in the third quarter after the Bolts took control for most of the first half, scoring 35 points to turn a 42-51 halftime deficit to a 77-71 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Meralco still stayed resilient in the final frame, even retaking the lead one more time, 97-96, with exactly 1:58. Jayson Castro, however, scored the go-ahead jumper with 1:40 remaining to put TNT up, 98-97.
The Bolts failed to reclaim the lead in their next two plays, and KJ McDaniels scored on a layup that stretched the KaTropa's lead to three, 100-97, with 35.9 seconds left.
Allein Maliksi found himself open for a potential game-tying triple, but the ball just hit the back rim. RR Pogoy, however, kept the door open for Meralco to try another shot at forcing overtime when he missed two free throws off an Allen Durham foul.
Durham committed a more crucial error in the next play when he threw an errant pass to the Bolts' bench with 11.3 seconds to go, leading to a split from Castro that sealed the win for the KaTropa.
Troy Rosario put up 25 points, three rebounds, one assist, and one block for TNT, which can clinch the best-of-five series on Saturday night.
McDaniels added 18 points, 14 rebounds, three assists, one steal, and two blocks, while Castro put up 17 markers, three boards, 10 dimes, and four steals.
Durham led Meralco, which needs to win Game 4 to send the series to sudden death, with 32 markers, 19 caroms, and seven dimes.
Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno