PBA: Tiongson deflects credit after torching Meralco

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 28 2023 09:05 PM

TerraFirma's Juami Tiongson made six three-pointers in a big win over Meralco. PBA Images
TerraFirma's Juami Tiongson made six three-pointers in a big win over Meralco. PBA Images

MANILA, Philippines -- After nearly matching his career-high in the PBA, TerraFirma guard Juami Tiongson was more concerned with taking accountability for a previous loss than celebrating his achievement.

Tiongson torched the Meralco Bolts for 30 points -- one shy of his scoring record in the league -- to lead TerraFirma to an impressive 96-88 win in the 2023 Governors' Cup on Saturday night.

His three-pointer with under eight minutes left gave the Dyip their biggest lead, 86-69, and after Meralco trimmed the deficit to six points in the closing minute, Tionson knocked down a pair of clutch free throws to ice the win.

"Of course I don't take any credit for myself, kasi it's always about the team," said Tiongson, who made six of nine three-point attempts and 10 of 12 free throws in TerraFirma's breakthrough win of the conference.

"I think the team really, exclusively, looked for me, especially when I was making my shots early," he added, noting that even import Jordan Williams wanted to get the ball to him along with veterans Alex Cabagnot and Eric Camson.

"They were really telling me, 'O, hahanapin ka namin, ha.' So I wouldn't have -- we wouldn't have done it without everyone. It was a total, collective effort," he added.

For Tiongson, his effort against Meralco was a way of making up for his outing in their 130-115 loss to Converge in their first game of the conference. Against the FiberXers, he put up 16 points in the second half to help the Dyip take a 71-68 lead.

But he went just 1-of-6 in the second half for two points, and the FiberXers pulled away for a comfortable win.

"Doon sa Converge, I think I have to take the blame kasi during the second half, nawala 'yung focus ko," Tiongson admitted. "I focused more on the referees instead of focusing on my game. Kaya nawala rin 'yung aggressiveness ko, puro reklamo ako."

"So, I learned from that and in today's game, I guess it showed. Ni-lessen ko na 'yung mga antics na unnecessary naman," he added.

Against Meralco, Tiongson scored 13 points in the final period, helping his team build a lead large enough to withstand the Bolts' final charge. 

That his star guard would come up big for TerraFirma came as no surprise for head coach Johnedel Cardel, who praised Tiongson's focus and readiness in crunch time situations.

"Sabi ko sa kanya, just be ready. And I told his teammates, we have to help Juami to get him open. Kasi 'yung pag-shoot niya, para sa team natin. 'Yung panalo niya, para sa team natin, hindi sa kanya," said Cardel.

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