A 50-piece is no joke and Jalen Hudson’s 56 points against the previously undefeated Converge FiberXers was a masterclass in relentlessness.
Hudson had what was easily his best offensive performance in the PBA, knocking down six 3-pointers and converting contested layups with ease. The FiberXers’ 128-122 loss to Hudson and the TNT Tropang Giga was not for lack of trying as the Tropang Giga needed all of the Ohio native’s 56 points. Converge actually led by nine points with 4:48 left in the third quarter, but saw their lead disappear after Hudson capped off a 13-3 TNT run that handed the Tropang Giga the lead they would never relinquish.
It’s fair to say that Hudson came at the right time for TNT, who have dealt with numerous issues throughout this season. From Mikey Williams’ flipping and flopping to the in-season head coaching change (albeit temporary) from Chot Reyes to Jojo Lastimosa, the Tropang Giga needed a steady rudder and the likes of Hudson and RR Pogoy have been trying to steady the ship.
Almost halfway through the 2023 Honda PBA Governors’ Cup, the Tropang Giga are 4-1, and Hudson has largely been responsible for where TNT currently is. Hudson’s production has given Mikey Williams time to rediscover his form offensively. The former Virginia Tech Hokie and Florida Gator has made strides with his shot quality, and that he made 67 percent of his attempts against the FiberXers is a great sign moving forward. In five games, Hudson is averaging 33.4 points, 10.0 rebounds, 4.6 assists, 1.2 steals, and 1.2 blocks, numbers that speak of his great value offensively but also his ability to chip in on other aspects of the game.
Naturally, one has to wonder if there will be enough shots to go around but through five games, the Tropang Giga’s top five scorers average no less than seven attempts per game. Shooting percentages aside, it goes to show that there could be potential for any of the likes of Pogoy, Mikey Williams, Calvin Oftana, and maybe even Jayson Castro to provide support to Hudson, who will more often than not be counted on for the lion’s share of production.
That is the life of an import at least in the PBA; produce a lot and hopefully win a lot. For Hudson, that may just be the bare minimum as he has to help set the tone. The 26-year old was visibly tired after the game and needed to catch his breath during the post-game press conference, but during the game, he continued to attack the basket even if his team was up by double-digits by that time.
All of that bodes well as TNT prepares for the crucial stretch of the 2023 Governors’ Cup, where they will face the likes of the San Miguel Beermen, the Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, and the Meralco Bolts, all of whom are either undefeated or also sport only one loss as of this writing. Those teams also aren’t slouches in that they are deep and cohesive rosters that have been together for quite some time.
How the Tropang Giga navigates through that tough part of the schedule would determine where they really are as a squad. On paper, they are a sure-fire title contender, but health and on court production has made it tough to realize that said potential. Getting Poy Erram back would provide a major boost to the squad against the stronger teams and perhaps even give Hudson more space to operate. More importantly, though, the added depth will help boost their hopes for a long postseason stint. Pretty much everyone is tired now that we’re at the third conference, and any fresh legs are welcome.
Jalen Hudson means business and he is towing the TNT Tropang Giga along with him thus far in the 2023 Honda PBA Governors’ Cup. Hudson has been able to set the tone through adversity and it’s on the rest of the Tropang Giga to follow suit if they want to end this season on a winning note.