With 2:02 left in the third quarter, the TNT Tropang Giga held a 69-68 lead over the top seed Magnolia Hotshots thanks to an RR Pogoy 3-pointer. Earlier, the Meralco Bolts, the Tropang Giga’s sister team, outlasted the Phoenix Fuel Masters in triple overtime and TNT was looking to do the same against the Hotshots in the 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals. 

Momentum was there for the taking, but then, Tyler Bey and Magnolia would not be denied. 

The Hotshots went on an 8-0 run to close the fourth quarter and while the Tropang Giga made one final stand, Magnolia held on to clinch a 109-94 victory. 

The game itself pretty much summed up TNT’s season: The Tropang Giga were title contenders at least on paper and the performance on the court sometimes showed that. However, when no one outside Rahlir Hollis-Jefferson, Calvin Oftana, and the returning RR Pogoy can provide consistent production, things went south for TNT. 

While this was going on, the Tropang Giga were dealing with their annual Mikey Williams contract saga, which up to now remains unresolved and has become a concern even for Strong Group Athletics. 

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, who was originally slated to be TNT’s import for the Commissioner’s Cup, missed around a quarter of the conference with gastroenteritis and a neck injury. Even when he was on the sidelines, Hollis-Jefferson was involved in a heated exchange with Rain or Shine Elasto Painters head coach Yeng Guiao. As a result, the PBA Commissioner’s office quietly banned the 2023 PBA Governors’ Cup Best Import of the Conference from watching the Tropang Giga’s elimination round finale. 


Thankfully, the conference is over and with the PBA holding the Philippine Cup more or less by the tail end of the first quarter of 2024, TNT can already make preparations for the All-Filipino Conference as early as now. Mikey Williams’ status is up in the air, and regardless of his situation, the likes of Oftana, Pogoy, and Jayson Castro will be there to provide major contributions to the team. Even if Castro is already in the twilight of his career, he can still come up with a vintage game or two. 

The emergence of Kim Aurin and the steady presence of Kelly Williams should give the Tropang GIga more options, while Poy Erram could return in the middle of the conference. The import-less nature of the Philippine Cup gives the locals a bigger spotlight so we could see TNT have one of the league’s deeper benches in the All-Filipino Conference. 

The TNT Tropang Giga were stuck between a rock and a hard place for much of the 2023-2024 PBA Commissioner’s Cup, with the Magnolia Hotshots putting them out of their misery in the quarterfinals. All hope is not lost on their season as a rejuvenated roster and an early start to their Philippine Cup preparations could have them back on top in no time.