The Blur was just three assists away from a triple double, as TNT evens up vs SMB in the battle of the flagship franchises.
By Julian Reyes
PASAY–The TNT Katropa delivered a great defensive gem down the stretch to finally nail one on the San Miguel Beermen, 87-85, and tie their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at 1-apiece at the Mall of Asia Arena here.
With five seconds left on the clock, TNT’s veterans Ranidel de Ocampo and Larry Fonacier pulled off a great defensive gem as they denied Alex Cabagnot, who also happened to be the Beermen’s clutch hero, and former MVP Arwind Santos a clean look at the basket to snap San Miguel’s 11-game winning streak.
The defensive effort came after Cabagnot stole the possession from De Ocampo with five seconds left on the clock, and 52 seconds after the former also drilled three freebies to give San Miguel a chance to tie or – worse – win the game.
“We conditioned our minds that it was going to be close and we knew that we had to gut it out until the end,” said TNT’s head coach Nash Racela.
“Hopefully, this changes everything,” he added.
De Ocampo finished with a double-double of 13 points and 13 rebounds while Castro flirted with a triple-double on 10 points, seven rebounds and 11 assists effort to lead TNT in its first win over the Beermen in four games this conference.
Troy Rosario top scored TNT with 14 points, while three others finished with double figures.
TNT led 42-33 at the break, and as much as 11 points midway through the third quarter but had to weather a late San Miguel’s surge to secure the victory.
Reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo came three blocks shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 11 caroms and seven blocks to spearhead San Miguel’s comeback but he and Cabagnot lacked support from his teammates. Cabagnot recorded 24 points.
TNT 87–Rosario 14, De Ocampo 13, Tautuaa 12, Pogoy 11, Castro 10, Fonacier 10, Williams 9, Rosser 5, Rosales 3, Golla 0, Reyes 0, Seigle 0
San Miguel 85 – Fajardo 25, Cabagnot 24, Santos 9, Espinas 8, Lassiter 8, Agovida 7, Ross 4, De Ocampo 0, Garcia 0, Reyes 0, Tubid 0
Quarterscores: 20-15, 42-33, 65-59, 87-85
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