TNT KaTropa went on an epic run to erase a nine-point deficit in the final three minutes to pull off a 98-97 win to eliminate defending champions Magnolia Hotshots in their 2019 PBA Governors' Cup quarterfinals clash Monday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Down 96-87 with 3:16 left in the game, TNT first went on a 9-0 run sparked by Jayson Castro and capped by a Troy Rosario corner triple to even things up with 36 ticks left.
Romeo Travis split his free throws to give the Hotshots a one-point buffer, but Magnolia gave up a foul and two free throws on the other end as Bobby Ray Parks hauled down an offensive rebound off a Castro miss and sank both at the line after drawing a foul.
Left with no more timeouts in the last six seconds, Magnolia ran the full length of the court and got a good look on a drive by Travis, but that shot was blocked by out of bounds by KJ McDaniels, who tracked the Hotshots import down from behind to preserve the lead for the KaTropa.
Magnolia still had 1.1 seconds to operate, but Mark Barroca was unable to get it to Travis on the baseline inbound for what would have served as the game-winner.
Castro fueled the offense with 30 points -- including seven straight in over one minute to start off that game-turning run -- and also handed out 7 dimes, while McDaniels bucked a bad shooting night (10-for-31) to tally 25 markers, 17 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 blocks.
"We just got lucky. We didn't expect we'd be able to come back. We were already looking forward to the next game. But maybe it's God's plan," coach Bong Ravena said. "We just kept playing hard. Both teams, actually, really, really played hard. It was anybody's ball game.We're just so lucky we came back. There weren't any special plays. It's all hard work."
TNT trailed most of the match looked out of it before entering the payoff period as the Hotshots broke free from a six-point halftime lead to create an 18-point separation, 80-62, at the tail end of the third quarter.
The KaTropa later buried four triples in the fourth quarter, with back-to-back shots from Ryan Reyes and Castro setting up the latter's flurry to put momentum on the side of the third-seeded TNT.
"The team really runs differently with him," Ravena said about Castro. "We really need his leadership. Like I've said, he's the heart of the team."
"Our character was tested in this game," added Castro. "The coaches just kept reminding us that even if we lost, we'll just have to keep fighting and playing. That was on my mind, too. If we were gonna lose, at least we'd have momentum we can carry for the next game. It was just a good thing we won it."
Troy Rosario overcame a sore ankle in the third to finish with 12 points, 6 rebounds and 2 assists, while Reyes added 19. Parks added 7 points, 8 boards and 4 dimes.
Magnolia wasted a massive outing from Travis, who poured in 32 markers and 26 boards in the loss. Rome dela Rosa contributed 13, while Jio Jalalon tossed in 12 points, 6 rebounds and 4 assists.
TNT will advance to the semifinals and will go up against the Meralco Bolts, who already dispatched the Alaska Aces last Sunday.
"Meralco is at its peak. We have to prepare for them. They're on a roll, so we have to take care of everything. Hopefully we'll be ready," said Ravena.
TNT (98) -- Castro 30, McDaniels 25, Rosario 12, Reyes 10, Pogoy 8, Parks 7, Digregorio 6, Williams 0.
Magnolia (97) -- Travis 32, Dela Rosa 13, Jalalon 12, Lee 11, Barroca 9, Banchero 8, Sangalang 7, Pingris 4, Melton 1, Reavis 0.
Quarters: 22-26, 48-54, 68-80, 98-97.
Roger Pogoy's Gilas could be in doubt after the guard strained his back late in the fourth quarter. Pogoy, who had difficulty walking back to the bench after diving for a lose ball with under a minute to go, said he'll go to the hospital to have the injury checked. "I took some meds and the pain subsided. We'll wait for the results, I still can't determine how it's gonna affect things right now," he said before gingerly walking out of the arena.
TNT was able to carve out the win even after shooting a paltry 37.8 percent form the field. Magnolia made 40 percent of its shots in the loss.
This is the second time that Magnolia blew a double-digit lead in a loss this conference. The Hotshots also gave up a last-minute loss on Nov. 10, when a Jericho Cruz game-winner lifted NLEX in that elimination round matchup.