PBA: Fast start propels TNT to big Game 1 win over Magnolia

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 20 2021 08:27 PM | Updated as of Oct 20 2021 09:37 PM

TNT rookie Mikey Williams starred in the Tropang GIGA's Game 1 rout of Magnolia. PBA Media Bureau.
TNT rookie Mikey Williams starred in the Tropang GIGA's Game 1 rout of Magnolia. PBA Media Bureau.

MANILA (UPDATED) - TNT got off to a quick start and never let up en route to an 88-70 rout of Magnolia in Game 1 of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup Finals, Wednesday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The game was even more lopsided than the final score indicated, as TNT surged to an early 18-point lead in the first period and eventually pulled ahead by as much as 32 points in the third quarter.

The Tropang GIGA took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series, where they are seeking to end a six-year title drought in the PBA. 

Rookie star Mikey Williams, coming off an up-and-down performance in their semifinal series against San Miguel, was efficient against the Magnolia defense. He put up a game-high 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting, on top of 10 rebounds and five assists, though he also committed four turnovers.

Poy Erram added 14 points and seven boards, and Kelly Williams had 10 markers before exiting in the third period after possibly straining his back. 

"Our entire objective coming in was to make sure we execute our game plan, both offensively and defensively," said TNT coach Chot Reyes after the game. "And I thought the most important thing was to match their effort."

"Magnolia really comes out and plays with a lot of effort, so we focused our attention on making sure that we are able to match their energy and their effort," he added.

"I thought we were able to do that."

It was a wire-to-wire triumph for the Tropang GIGA, who scored the first seven points of the game -- five coming from sophomore guard Kib Montalbo. They went on to lead 20-2 with four minutes left in the opening quarter, as Magnolia's offense sputtered.

The Hotshots got the lead down to 10 points, 24-14, at the end of the first, but TNT immediately pulled away again in the second frame. Williams orchestrated a 7-0 blast, assisting on an Erram layup then scoring five quick points, to push TNT to a 33-16 advantage with still over eight minutes to go.

It was all TNT from there, as Magnolia's offense never got on track. Their 70 points are a conference low, and their paltry 27.39% field goal shooting is third worst in the history of the proud franchise. TNT also gave Magnolia a taste of its own medicine, as they forced the Hotshots to commit a whopping 28 turnovers in the game. The Tropang GIGA scored 26 points off Magnolia's miscues.

The Hotshots tried to get themselves going through their offensive rebounding, which worked in their favor in their semis series against Meralco as they scored several times on their second opportunities.

But against TNT in Game 1, it didn't quite work out -- Magnolia grabbed 23 offensive boards, but scored just 14 second chance points. The Hotshots also shot themselves in the foot by missing 18 of the 44 free throws that they attempted in the game.

Reyes was quick to stress that they have to move on from the win, as impressive as it was.

"Whether you lose by a big margin or you lose by a point, it's still 1-0. So for us, all we've done is get the first game. We have to now focus all our energy to prepare for Game 2," he said.

Paul Lee had 12 points for Magnolia, though he made just 3-of-12 field goals. Jackson Corpuz matched Lee's output and also grabbed 11 rebounds. Calvin Abueva, the leading contender for Best Player of the Conference honors, had a double-double of 11 points and 11 rebounds, though he too struggled from the field (3-of-11 shooting).

Ian Sangalang, another BPC contender, played just 10 minutes and scored five points on 1-of-3 shooting. He did not play in the second half.

Game 2 of the best-of-seven series is on Friday.

The Scores :

TNT 88 – M.Williams 21, Erram 14, K.Williams 10, Rosario 8, Pogoy 7, Montalbo 7, Mendoza 6, Khobuntin 5, Marcelo 4, Reyes 3, Alejandro 2, Castro 1, Heruela 0, Exciminiano 0, Javier 0

MAGNOLIA 70 – Lee 12, Corpuz 12, Abueva 11, Dela Rosa 7, Sangalang 5, Ahanmisi 5, Barroca 4, Capobres 4, De Leon 4, Jalalon 3, Pascual 2, Brill 1, Reavis 0, Dionisio 0, Melton 0

Quarters : 24-14, 53-34, 74-48, 88-70