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EASL: Anyang seals Final 4 spot as TNT's comeback falls short

Robert Carter had a solid all-around game to help Anyang eliminate TNT from the EASL. EASL
By Ivan Saldajeno

PASIG--Anyang sealed its place in the EASL semifinals after shutting down TNT's last-ditch effort with an 88-76 win on Wednesday night at the PhilSports Arena.

The Red Boosters' fiery start was all but enough for them to seal the crucial road win as the Tropang Giga's comeback fell short.

Needing to win at least one of its last two games to qualify for the knockout stages, Anyang waxed hot early on and raced to a 34-19 lead at the end of the first quarter.

Behind the Hollis-Jefferson Brothers' herculean efforts, TNT slowly crawled back and was just within five, 78-73, with 4:24 remaining.

The returning Rondae Hollis-Jefferson tried to bring his team closer, but Jamil Wilson blocked his layup attempt, leading to Choi Seong-Won's huge three that sparked the game-deciding 7-0 run that upped Anyang's lead back to 12.

Choi led Anyang, which moved up to 3-2 in Group A, with 23 points on a perfect 7-for-7 shooting from beyond the arc, four rebounds, and two assists.

Robert Carter added 22 points, 14 rebounds, and seven assists, while former Converge import Jamil Wilson contributed 15 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, three blocks, and one steal in his EASL debut.

Hollis-Jefferson finished with 33 points, seven rebounds, seven assists, and three steals in his return to action after a one-month layoff due to a neck injury.

Older brother Rahlir added 20 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, and four steals for TNT, which ended its EASL campaign at 1-5.

No PBA team in EASL playoffs after Ryukyu's win vs. New Taipei

Meanwhile, Ryukyu handed New Taipei its first loss in the EASL after a 90-67 drubbing at the Okinawa Arena.

In the battle of the "Kings", the Kings of Japan tore down the Kings of Taiwan in the second half, outscoring them, 55-27, to pull away after a tight first half.

Allen Durham made 21 points, five rebounds, three assists, two steals, and two blocks to lead Ryukyu, whose win actually eliminated his former team Meralco from EASL playoff contention.

This means there will be no PBA team that will qualify to the next round.

Yoshiyuki Matsuwaki added 17 points on 5-of-7 shooting from beyond the arc, two rebounds, and three steals.

Ryukyu must now hope that Seoul SK loses its last two games both at home against New Taipei next Wednesday and Meralco on Feb. 7 to book the last seat in the playoffs.

Hayden Blankley made 16 points, four rebounds, two assists, and one block for New Taipei, which fell to 4-1.

Jeremy Lin was held to only eight points and committed seven turnovers.

The scores

Anyang (88) – Choi 23, Carter 22, Park 15, Wilson 15, Bae 11, Jung 2, W. Lee 0, Kho 0.

TNT (76) – Ro. Hollis-Jefferson 33, Ra. Hollis-Jefferson 20, Reyes 6, Khobuntin 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, Heruela 2, Pogoy 2, Ponferada 2, Montalbo 2, Cruz 0, Aurin 0.

Quarterscores: 34-19; 53-41; 71-61; 88-76.

Follow him on X: @IvanSaldajeno

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