MANILA, Philippines – Terrence Jones would not let everything TNT accomplished in the elimination round to just go down the drain in a snap.
The American flexed his muscles as TNT escaped the upset axe with a come-from-behind 104-93 victory over Alaska in the quarterfinals of the PBA Commissioner's Cup on Wednesday, July 24.
After a humiliating 36-point loss in Game 1 – a shock after posting a league-best 10-1 record in the eliminations – TNT looked headed for vacation after trailing by as many 16 points in the first half.
But Jones displayed the dominance that has made him the frontrunner for the Best Import of the Conference award, scoring 22 of his 37 points in the second half on top of 22 rebounds and 9 assists.
He even singlehandedly outscored Alaska in the final frame, piling up 15 points against their foes' 12 as TNT advanced to the semifinals for the first time in 5 conferences.
"Everybody was a little panicked after that first loss. And we just had to, you know, believe in ourselves and come together and I think that's what we did. And that's why we're so happy," Jones told reporters after the game.
"I think Alaska really gave us a great competition. This playoff series, they were really well-coached. And their guys really fought and gave us a difficult time the first game and we had to come out today and play together."
The road to the Promised Land, though, is bound to get even tougher for Jones and TNT as they tangle with defending champion Barangay Ginebra in a best-of-five semifinals affair.
Ginebra has not lost for the last 5 games, sweeping rival Magnolia in their best-of-three quarterfinals duel.
While he will be pitted against reigning Best Import Justin Brownlee in a matchup that is deemed to spell fireworks throughout the semifinals series, Jones said basketball remains a team game.
"For me, our jersey says TNT so I'm just, you know, trying to make sure we get the win and we do what it takes to get to the next round."
TNT and Ginebra clash in Game 1 on Friday, July 26, at the Araneta Coliseum.– Rappler.com
Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.