By Michael Angelo S. Murillo
THE San Miguel Beermen pulled even with the TNT KaTropa in their best-of-seven Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup finals series after taking Game Two, 127-125, in double overtime on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Played with a firmer footing than in the series-opener, the Beermen just refused to give up even in the face of seeming defeat at the hands of the KaTropa to get the win and be back in the series.
Import Chris McCullough led the Beermen with 32 points with Terrence Romeo adding 29.
Chris Ross finished with 25 markers while Alex Cabagnot had 19 points.
Troy Rosario, meanwhile, led TNT with 34 points with Terrence Jones and Jayson Castro adding 28 and 27 points, respectively.
The game got off to a competitive start with the two teams fighting to a 23-all count with 2:26 to go in the opening canto before the Beermen went on a 9-2 blast after to take a 32-25 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.
Mr. Romeo then exploded for San Miguel in the second frame, helping his team to a 17-point separation, 56-39, with four minutes to go at the half.
Roger Pogoy drained some baskets to steady the TNT ship but San Miguel would hold on to stay on top, 59-45, by the halftime break.
A shootout marked the beginning of the third as both teams tried to take control of the match.
The KaTropa pulled to within five points, 80-75, with less than two minutes left.
San Miguel, however, held off its opponent to remain on top, 84-77, heading into the fourth quarter.
The Texters continued putting the pressure on the Beermen, staying with striking distance, 94-90, at the 6:44 mark on the outside sniping of Mr. Rosario.
San Miguel was still on top, 101-100, entering the last two minutes before a triple by Mr. Rosario made it 103-101 for TNT with 1:20 left in the contest.
The Beermen sued for time but a turnover sent the ball back to TNT.
A basket by Don Trollano with 54 ticks remaining further extended TNT’s lead, 105-101.
Mr. McCullough pushed San Miguel to within two points, 105-103, after with two free throws.
A split by Mr. Trollano on the free throw gave a three-point cushion for TNT, 106-103, with 23 ticks left.
San Miguel tied the count, 106-all, five seconds later off a timeout as Mr. Romeo hit a triple.
TNT called timeout to set up a play. It went to Mr. Jones to take the last shot but the San Miguel held on to send the game to overtime.
In the extra period the jostling continued with the team locked at 111-all with two two minutes to go.
A three-pointer by Mr. Rosario pushed the Texters ahead once again, 114-111, with 1:17 remaining on the clock.
The Texters had their chances to close out the game but missed free throws and the ejection of Mr. Jones gave the Beermen a window to force a second OT after Mr. Cabagnot scored a game-tying layup to make it 114-all as time expired.
In the second OT no team budged, knotted stil at 122-all with 1:33 left.
The two teams went back and forth after until Mr. Fajardo broke the tie, 124-122, with two free throws with 33 ticks remaining.
The Beermen made it a four-point lead, 126-122, after TNT turned the ball over.
TNT pushed within one point, 126-125, after a triple with 11 seconds left from Mr. Castro.
The Texters fouled Mr. McCullough, who split his charities to still open the window for TNT, 127-125.
Mr. Castro had a chance to snatch the game but his two three-point attempts failed to hit the mark to hand the win to the Beermen.
“It was a great game. It was a lost cause for us but the players just refused to quit,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria after the game.
Game Three of the finals is on Friday, Aug. 9, also at the Big Dome.