By Michael Angelo S. Murillo

TNT resets finals series with San Miguel to a best-of-three

Posted on June 29, 2017

THE TNT KaTropa got back in their best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup finals series last night, beating the San Miguel Beermen, 102-97, in Game Four to level the series at two games apiece.

Import Joshua Smith led the TNT KaTropa in their 102-97 Game Four win over the San Miguel Beermen last night to tie their best-of-seven PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals series at two games apiece. -- ALVIN S. GO
Lost command of the championship series after losing in the last two games that negated their victory in the series opener, the KaTropa delivered in a must-win game for them on the strength of a better collective effort and end-game poise to reset the finals joust in the midseason PBA tournament to a best-of-three.

As expected, the two teams came out attacking to start the game, looking to establish control of the match.

They went back and forth throughout the opening period, with TNT eventually taking the lead in the end, 27-24.

The second quarter saw the protagonists making runs and counter-runs.

TNT was first, going on a 14-8 run in tne first five minutes to take a nine-point lead, 41-32.

San Miguel then countered after, sprinting to a 10-0 blast, to seize the lead, 42-41.

But like in the opening canto, the KaTropa would steady their ship to remain ahead, 49-47, at the halftime break.

The nip-and-tuck nature of the contest continued in the third quarter.

TNT jumpstarted things to remain in early control before San Miguel came charging to dictate the tempo the rest of the way and lead by the end of the period, 76-73.

San Miguel stretched its lead to five points, 83-78, one-third of the way in the payoff period.

An 8-3 run by TNT in the next two minutes, however, pulled it even at 86-all.

It was a leverage it would use to outscore the Beermen after, 8-3, to establish a five-point cushion, 94-89, with 3:45 to go in the game.

A Charles Rhodes dunk cut TNT’s lead but Jayson Castro put their lead back to five, 96-91, with less than three minutes to play.

Josh Smith scored on a three-point play to put the KaTropa on top by eight points, 99-91, with two minutes remaining in the match.

The Beermen tried to claw their way back but they would eventually fail as the KaTropa would not allow any comeback to happen.

Mr. Smith led TNT to the win with 20 points and 15 rebounds.

Mr. Castro had 17 points while Mr. Pogoy tallied 14 after going scoreless in the previous two games.

The Beermen, meanwhile, were led by Mr. Rhodes with 22 points before leaving the game in the closing moments because of two technical fouls.

Alex Cabagnot had 18 while Marcio Lassiter finished with 14 points.

“It was a hard-fought game. Both teams came out and gave their all and we’re just happy to be back on the winning end,” said TNT coach Nash Racela after their win.

“Against a team like San Miguel you need a total team effort and tonight our players did that,” he added.

While they lost in Game Four, the Beermen were able to sweep top individual honors for the conference.

In a short ceremony before the start of the game, Mr. Rhodes and guard Chris Ross claimed the best import and best player of the conference awards, respectively.

Mr. Rhodes beat TNT’s Smith, Barangay Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee and Star’s Ricardo Ratliffe for his award.

Mr. Ross, meanwhile, edged out teammates Cabagnot and June Mar Fajardo, TNT’s Jayson Castro and GlobalPort’s Stanley Pringle.

Game Five of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals is tomorrow at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.