Joshua Smith and Jayson Castro delivered 31 points apiece to help TNT KaTropa book the remaining semifinals spot with a hard-fought 104-96 overtime victory over the Meralco Bolts in the sudden death Game Three of their Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup series on Fiday night at SMART-Araneta Coliseum.
Smith also grabbed 27 boards while Castro also collected three rebounds, two assists and three steals as TNT prevailed in the second straight overtime game of the series.
With the win, TNT forged a semifinal duel with Ginebra. Their best-of-five showdown begins on Sunday.
After building a 15-point lead in the first quarter, KaTropa had to mount a comeback against the Bolts who turned the tables on TNT and established a 14-point cushion, 64-50, in the third quarter.
But the hot shooting of Castro, who engaged in a fiery duel with Meralco’s Baser Amer, propelled TNT back in the game.
After Ryan Reyes buried a triple to pull KaTropa to within one, 89-88, with 1:10 left, Meralco had its chances to seal the win but failed.
Chris Newsome missed a technical free throw off a blunder by Ranidel De Ocampo who didn’t report his substitution to the officials’ table.
As Castro missed a triple, Meralco called a timeout and assigned Newsome for the inbound play. But he threw the ball away as the Bolts sent Castro to the line.
Castro was able to make one out of two free throws to tie the game at 89-all with over five seconds left. But with no timeouts left, the Bolts were unable to map out a play as Jared Dillinger missed a heave at the buzzer.
TNT then took over in the extra period, shackling the undermanned Meralco which lost Alex Stepheson and Dillinger who both fouled out.
Amer led the Bolts with 25 points, nine rebounds, four assists and three steals.