By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
KNOTTED at 1-1 in their best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup finals series, the San Miguel Beermen and TNT KaTropa go for the go-ahead when they reengage today for Game Three at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Set for 7 p.m., the two teams look for the win that would swing for them the momentum in the highly competitive and emotional series and move a step closer to the title of the midseason PBA tournament.
The levelled affair came about after San Miguel hacked an escape act in Game Two, winning, 127-125, in double overtime.
The Beermen had control of the much until the KaTropa made a ferocious charge back towards the end of regulation.
Unfortunately for TNT it failed to complete the fight back as the game went into overtime.
In the first OT, the KaTropa once again had a chance to close out the Beermen.
But missed free throws by Brian Heruela and Troy Rosario in the closing moments and the ejection of import Terrence Jones because of two technical fouls gave the Beermen a window to force a second OT, which came by way of an Alex Cabagnot game-tying layup to make it 114-all as time expired.
In the second extra period, the two teams continued to jostle. But the Beermen eventually wound up with more leverage in the end to hold on for the win and tie the series.
Import Chris McCullough led the Beermen in the win, finishing with 32 points, 22 rebounds and seven assists.
Guard Terrence Romeo exploded for 29 points off the bench, going 6-of-8 from beyond the arc.
Chris Ross had 25 points while Mr. Cabagnot had 19 points and seven assists. June Mar Fajardo added 12 points and 10 rebounds for San Miguel.
For TNT it was Mr. Rosario who showed the way with 34 points, going 8-of-12 from three-point land.
Mr. Jones had another solid all-around game before being ejected, tallying 28 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, five steals and three blocks.
Jayson Castro had 27 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds while Roger Pogoy had 17 markers. Don Trollano had a double-double outing for TNT with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
“It was a fantastic game indeed. We’re just lucky that from what was a sure defeat we were able to win. We just never gave up. I commend the players because they never gave up. I think their experience was a big help. They just refused to lose. And we’re happy to tie the series,” said a relieved San Miguel coach Leo Austria in the postgame press conference.
Over at TNT, the KaTropa acknowledged that they let a win slip from their hands and was disappointed by it. But they vowed to move on and redeem themselves in Game Three.
“It is what it is. We had our chances in the game but that’s basketball. We thought we had it. We’ll just try to do a better job next game,” a somber TNT coach Bong Ravena said.
“The players are disappointed, of course, but we just have to move on and prepare for Game Three,” he added.