Glen Rice Jr. scored 34 points, including the game-winning putback, as TNT escaped with a 118-114 win over Rain Or Shine at Araneta Coliseum on Friday to advance to the PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals.
TNT will face defending champion Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-5 series in the next round. Game 1 will be on Monday.
In a game that featured 14 deadlocks and 15 lead changes, and neither team leading by 10 or more points, this one came down to the final seconds, with Rice proving to be the difference-maker.
At the right place and at the right time, Rice picked up an air-balled 3-point attempt by Jayson Castro and turned it into a bucket with 10 seconds left in the game to give TNT a 116-114 lead.
"It was a good pass. I just happen to be open," Rice joked.
In the next play, Rain Or Shine missed a chance to tie the score in a case of miscommunication when J’Nathan Bullock’s pass found no receivers, leading to a turnover.
To stop the clock, Rain Or Shine fouled TNT, but Ryan Reyes sank both free throws to seal the win.
"Hard-fought victory but we knew along that, going into this series with Rain Or Shine, we'll have a hard time playing with them," TNT coach Nash Racela said.
Rice also finished with 16 rebounds, 9 assists and 3 blocks, while Castro tallied 20 points and 12 assists.
In total, TNT assisted on 26 of 36 field goals.
Rain Or Shine pushed TNT, the No. 2 seed, to the limit, winning the first game and going toe to toe with the KaTropa as the Elasto Painters nearly pulled off the upset in the decider.
Bullock finished with 30 points and got ample help from everyone.
Led by always reliable Beau Belga and his 18 points, Rain Or Shine's bench outscored its TNT's counterparts 54-20.
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