BATANGAS CITY — TNT overcame early foul trouble by import Glen Rice Jr. and held off Barangay Ginebra, 103-96, to tie their 2017 Governors’ Cup semifinals series at 1-1 Wednesday night at Batangas City Coliseum.
Rice picked up his fourth foul with still 3:00 left in the first half that kept him out until the start of the final quarter.
But that also allowed Rice to have fresh legs in the fourth period. He committed his fifth foul at the 4:58 mark of the fourth period but he had already done his part scoring 12 of his team-high 21 points.
“It was really hard especially having only a day to prepare and then we had to travel so it’s really hard for the players,” said TNT head coach Nash Racela, whose squad redeemed itself after getting ripped, 121-94, in Game 1.
“We gave them the whole morning of Tuesday to rest. The team left in the afternoon and then we just had viewing. Good thing the players were able to absorb it quickly and make the necessary adjustments.”
The KaTropa took an 18-point lead early in the second quarter but the Gin Kings kept coming back and were down by only nine before Rice knocked down a quick release 3-pointer over Justin Brownlee for a 95-83 advantage with 5:59 remaining.
Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy carried TNT in the third quarter in the absence of Rice. The three outscored the Ginebra, 27-22.
Castro had 20 points, 11 coming in the third, that went with 10 assists. Rosario added 16 points and eight rebounds while Pogoy chipped in 14.
The pivotal Game 3 is on Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Justin Brownlee finished with a game-high 25 points on top of 10 rebounds while LA Tenorio collected 17 points, seven rebounds and six assists as he dazzled his fellow Batangueños.