TNT Tropang Giga leaned on its championship experience to nip Meralco in overtime, 21-19, and claim the opening leg crown of the PBA 3×3 Season 2 First Conference Sunday at the Robinsons Place Antipolo.
Samboy De Leon and Chris Exciminiano came through in the extra period, delivering the winning points for the Tropang Giga to bring home the top prize worth P100,000.
It was the sixth leg championship for TNT overall dating back to Season 1.
Meralco guard Tonino Gonzaga sent the game into overtime with a clutch deuce for a 19-19 count with a second left to play in the tightly-fought finals.
Almond Vosotros then missed a potential game-winning two at the buzzer.
“Crucial talaga ang Leg 1, kaya ang mindset namin mapanalo ang Leg 1,” said Exciminiano, who finished with eight points, behind the game-high nine of Vosotros.
The Bolts got six points each from Gonzaga and Alfred Batino as they settled for the P50,000 prize money.
Platinum Karaoke salvaged a podium finish by defeating J&T in a low-scoring game, 12-10, during the battle for third.
The Tropang Giga proved to be a tough nut to crack against a highly-inspired Express side in the semis, scoring an 18-15 win behind the game-high of 11 by guard Almond Vosotros
.Until running to TNT, the Express were on a roll that saw the rookie franchise bring down giants Purefoods and San Miguel in the pool play, and then bundled out NorthPort in the quarterfinals, 19-13.
TNT ousted Blackwater Red President in the quarterfinals, 18-16.
The Bolts meanwhile, turned back Purefoods, 16-11, in the first round of the knockout stage, before hacking out an 18-16 semis win against Platinum Karaoke to seal the title showdown with the Tropang Giga.
Earlier in the classification phase, Cavitex held Terrafirma to a season-low output following a 21-6 rout as Chester Saldua and Tzady Rangel finished with six each for the Braves.
Jeff Manday exploded for 11 points and Ken Bono added seven in San Miguel Beer’s 19-17 win over Barangay Ginebra.
The Braves and Beermen notched their first win each in the opening leg, while leaving both the Dyip and Kings winless in their respective campaigns.