A TNT Tropang Giga team that looked formidable on paper needed to dig deep to get to where they were expected to be.
Thanks to talent and their tenacity, they're playing for a PBA championship again.
Ray Parks Jr. scored 26 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and TNT pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat Phoenix Super LPG 91-81 on Friday to clinch a finals seat in the 2020 Philippine Cup.
Simon Enciso added 12 points in the semifinals-clinching Game 5 at AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City, Pampanga, as Tropang Giga await the winner of the Barangay Ginebra-Meralco duel to find out their opponent in the title series.
TNT last reached the All-Filipino finals in 2012, when it beat Rain Or Shine for the championship.
"It's good to be back in the finals, we commend our players especially Ray. They really stepped up tonight," TNT head coach Bong Ravena said.
Calvin Abueva tallied 23 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Fuel Masters, who lost the series after leading 2-1.
Tropang Giga, who never trailed in the game, didn't take control until midway through the fourth quarter.
Starting the fourth ahead 63-54, TNT attacked the basket early in the quarter and capped its run with a Roger Pogoy 3-pointer that put his team up 75-58.
The Fuel Masters, who were cold from long distance, never recovered.
They shot 8 of 41 from 3-point territory, with leading scorer Matthew Wright going 3 of 13 from long distance and 5 of 19 from the field overall.
Pogoy, Jay Washington and Jayson Castro added 11 points each for TNT.
But it was Parks's versatility not just in the series clincher but throughout the semifinals that enabled Tropang Giga to reach the title series.
He also had 6 assists and went 9 of 18 from the field. In playing 46 out of 48 minutes, he registered just 1 turnover.
"He proved na he's a team player. He has matured. Nakikita naman 'yung game niya," Ravena said of Parks.
Parks, whose last taste of a championship was for San Miguel Alab Pilipinas in the 2018 ASEAN Basketball League, said the task isn't over yet.
"We sacrificed 2 months, being away from our families. Let's dedicate this to them, play our best," he said.
"It's not easy being away from the family, it's not easy playing in the bubble . . . But we've made it to the finals, it's up to us to finish it."
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