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Michael Angelo S. Murillo

Give And Go

Four games have been played in the best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup finals series between the San Miguel Beermen and TNT KaTropa and so far it has been an engaging and eventful affair, and something I am having a blast watching.

Save for the first game where TNT had its way, the series has taken a highly competitive route with games punctuated by runs and counter-runs, comebacks and jacked-up performances by the combatants which have left fans at the edge of their seats from end-to-end.

The fact that the series is currently knotted at two games apiece further underscores the nip-and-tuck and exciting nature of the series, which is a rematch of the finals of the same conference two years ago.

It certainly helps in enhancing the affair to what it is that the series features two squads who are doggedly determined to see their respective causes through.

You can tell it with their actions on and off the court as well as how they talk that this is something they really want won.

This latest edition of the San Miguel team, for all its successes in the past years, has not won a grand slam and something that is motivating it in the ongoing series albeit it has not said it outright.

Getting the Commissioner’s Cup will make it two titles for the Beermen this season after their conquest of the season-opening PBA Philippine Cup, needing only one more title to complete a rare grand slam, which the franchise was able to achieve 30 years ago in 1989.

San Miguel was in a position to win one in 2017 but failed to get the final conference to make it two grand slam feats, and I am sure it is an unfinished business that it wants to be done and over with.

TNT, for its part, is out to make the most of its first final appearance after two years and aching to end a PBA title drought which is currently running for four years now.

The KaTropa had its struggles in the last few conferences until it found the right mix in the ongoing tournament. And it goes without saying that the team would love to have this breakthrough and spirited campaign end with the Commissioner’s Cup trophy in their hands.

Then there are the imports who are in no way just out to “complement” their respective teams but are there to make things happen and lead their squads to the title.

TNT’s Terrence Jones has been a total all-around threat and has been a handful all tournament long.

He was adjudged as the best of import conference prior to Game Four on Sunday and quite deservingly so for he has willed TNT to much success in the tournament in so many ways.

So solid he has been that it is not a stretch to say that how far he goes, so goes the team.

Also coming up big is San Miguel import Chris McCullough.

While not as well-rounded as his TNT counterpart, McCullough is making full use of his height and length to make a difference for his team.

In the last two games he has posted 20-20 numbers in points and rebounds and has taken upon himself to weave his team through rough patches which bodes well for the Beermen.

Local heroes also abound in the series, making it all the more competitive and unpredictable.

Jayson Castro has been in tip-top form for TNT is creating shots both for himself and his teammates, highlighting how deserving he is of his fifth best player of the conference award.

Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy are flourishing with the presence of Jones, finding their shots from all cylinders.

Don Trollano has been a true utility guy, doing it all on both ends to help TNT. And so does Brian Heruela.

Over at San Miguel there are the old reliables June Mar Fajardo, Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot.

Fajardo had his struggles early in the series but has since picked things up and starting to throw his weight around against the KaTropa.

Backcourt mates Ross and Cabagnot have been true floor leaders, facilitating and taking charge for the team when needed.

Off the bench, Christian Standhardinger, Terrence Romeo and Von Pessumal have been chipping their fair share.

Veteran Arwind Santos has not had his typical game for much of the series but continues to be a threat.

Practically a “perfect storm” of a series, the San Miguel-TNT is surely a gem to witness.

And the thing about it all, more engaging stuff should come and it could well stretch to the full route of seven matches.

Great time to be a PBA fan.


Michael Angelo S. Murillo has been a columnist since 2003. He is a BusinessWorld reporter covering the Sports beat.