TNT dethrone Ginebra to win 2023 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup

April 24, 2023

4 mins

TNT dethrone Ginebra to win 2023 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup
TNT dethrone Ginebra to win 2023 Philippine Basketball Association Governors’ Cup

Written by EASL

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Mikey Williams is MVP as Tropang Giga beat the Gin Kings in Game 6

The Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Governors’ Cup has a new champion after TNT Tropang Giga defeated Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in six games to claim their first-ever win in the competition.

TNT, who had topped the Elimination Round standings, were down two games to one after the first three games of the Finals. Then NBA veteran and PBA Best Import Rondae Hollis-Jefferson put the team on his back, averaging 34 points in the next two games to put defending champions Ginebra on the brink of defeat.

Last Friday night, in Game 6, All-Star Mikey Williams took the reins, pouring a game-high 38 points and nine three-pointers in the clincher, including a go-ahead three with just over a minute to go. This completed the series comeback for Talk N’ Text and gave them a historic win in front of 13,588 fans, including team owner Manny Pangilinan at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Manila.

“Going into the Finals, I knew we have to come up with a better game to dethrone them (Ginebra) and huge credit to the coaching staff and the players (for rising to the occasion),” TNT interim head coach Jojo Lastimosa said after the game. It was Lastimosa’s first championship as a head coach, and it came at the expense of his former mentor Tim Cone, the Ginebra head coach.

Mikey Williams was named the 2023 Honda-PBA Press Corps Finals Most Valuable Player after becoming the first player in PBA history to hit at least eight triples in two Finals games. He shot 45 percent from beyond the arc in the series, knocking down 31 of 69 threes.

“I had it going,” Williams said after his team’s historic win. “I owe it to my team to stay aggressive because we’re playing a tough team in Ginebra.”

TNT’s season had been a roller coaster. The team was riding high in the early stages, going 8-1 in the Elimination Round before flying to Japan for EASL Champions Week in March.

However, Talk N’ Text had a reality check in Utsunomiya, Japan, going down heavily in both Champions Week games, first to Japan's defending B.LEAGUE champions Utsunomiya Brex and then to Korean Basketball League (KBL) champs Seoul SK Knights.

After returning from Japan, TNT picked up Hollis-Jefferson and once again became a force in the PBA, winning the final two games of the Elimination Round to finish first in the standings with a 10-1 record.

After cruising past Phoenix Super LPG Fuel Masters in the quarterfinals, TNT had a small hiccup with Meralco Bolts in the semis, losing Game 2 in overtime. But ­­the team regained their composure in the next two games, demolishing the Bolts to book their ticket to the Finals against the Gin Kings.

Ginebra were looking for their fifth Governors’ Cup win in six seasons. Import Justin Brownlee was a force to be reckoned with in the first four games of the series. But a bout of food poisoning, which hospitalized him at one point, limited his impact in Game 5, when he only managed 26 minutes on the court. Brownlee returned stronger in Game 6, scoring a team-high 29 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Gin Kings bowed out of the tournament in disappointing fashion. The result was remarkably a first PBA finals loss for Brownlee, as the three-time Best Import had previously gone six-for-six in his finals appearances.

Speaking after the game, the star said: “It’s a tough loss but give a lot of credit to TNT, they played great. Well-deserved. I have brothers from Gilas on their team so I’m happy for them.

“I’m also proud of the way we fought. We played our hearts out even with the adversity of losing LA (Tenorio) and Japeth (Aguilar) and the food poisoning in Game 5. But no excuses, though. The best team in the finals won and that was TNT.”

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