Jayson Castro struggled all night long but came up with a huge three-pointer in dying seconds to lift TNT KaTropa to a 100-94 victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 1 of their best-of-five semifinal series of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup on Sunday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Castro’s triple, his only lone field goal after missing his first nine attempts, pegged the final score as KaTropa weathered the rally of the Gin Kings to take a 1-0 series lead.
“Jason will be Jason. In fact, I don’t like him to take that last shot, but he hit the biggest shot tonight,” said TNT head coach Nash Racela. “It’s good the locals also played well in this game.”
Castro finished with just four markers but his huge triple in the end game was good enough to cover up his anemic shooting shooting performance.
Burly import Joshua Smith had another efficient night for TNT with 35 points on 16-of-22 shooting from the field and hauled down 13 rebounds.
Rookie RR Pogoy was also instrumental in the victory as he contributed 17 markers including an important triple to give KaTropa a 95-90 advantage with 1:34 remaining.
Justin Brownlee scored on a putback off LA Tenorio’s miss to put Ginebra within striking distance, 92-95, but Smith retaliated with an inside incursion to push the lead back to 97-92 with 41 ticks left.
After Brownlee scored on the next play, 94-97, Castro hoisted a three-point attempt at the top of the key to deliver the dagger, 100-94, 12.2 seconds remaining in the game.
Ranidel de Ocampo chipped in 12 points while RR Garcia added eight markers for TNT.
Brownlee led the Gin Kings with 24 points, 14 rebounds and six assists while Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar each had 15 for coach Tim Cone.
Kevin Ferrer contributed 10 points, majority came in the third period that helped Ginebra to get back in the game.