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PBA: KaTropa tie series

TNT's Troy Rosario goes for a layup against San Miguel's Ronald Tubid (MB photos | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)
TNT's Troy Rosario goes for a layup against San Miguel's Ronald Tubid (MB photos | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

By JONAS TERRADO

Game Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
5 p.m. – Star vs Ginebra
(Star leads series 1-0)

TNT's Troy Rosario goes for a layup against San Miguel's Ronald Tubid (MB photos | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)
TNT’s Troy Rosario goes for a layup against San Miguel’s Ronald Tubid (MB photos | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)
TNT KaTropa found chinks in the armor of the favored San Miguel Beermen last night and hacked out an 87-85 victory that tied their best-of-seven semifinal series at 1-1 in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena.

The KaTropa never gave the Beermen the chance to make a shot in their final two possessions, allowing them to spice up what was expected to be an easy rampage for the defending champions by leveling the series after two games.

Coach Nash Racela responded to the challenge of counterpart Leo Austria, who, after San Miguel’s resounding 111-98 win in the series opener, said that the Beermen still have some holes that TNT has yet to discover.

Racela and company may have not found all of San Miguel’s weaknesses, but regardless TNT would settle for turning the tide in the semis which resumes tomorrow night at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

“Coach Leo said that it’s just in the video (San Miguel’s weakness) at kailangan lang panoorin,” Racela said. “Parang na-challenged ako dun sa sinabi niya, and I saw something. Sana ’yun ’yung sinasabi niya na nakatago.”

Six players scored in double figures for TNT, with Troy Rosario leading the way with 14 points in a marked improvement from his scoreless output in the opener. Rosario also had five rebounds and three assists.

But it was Roger Pogoy who gave TNT the lead for good after San Miguel, which trailed 75-64 with 8:45 left, took an 82-80 lead on June Mar Fajardo’s two free throws with over two minutes remaining.

Pogoy’s layup with less than two minutes left put the KaTropa ahead 83-82. Jayson Castro scored a layup off a foul, missing the bonus free throw, before Ranidel de Ocampo’s layup made it 87-82 entering the final minute.

Alex Cabagnot was fouled from rainbow territory on the next play, making all three free throws, to put the Beermen within two. However, they wasted their chances down the stretch, thus ending their franchise-equaling record of 11 straight wins.

Arwind Santos turned it over with 28 seconds to play. San Miguel had one final chance after Chris Ross snatched the ball from De Ocampo, but the Beermen failed to make an attempt after Cabagnot’s pass for Santos was too high, thus preventing them to put up a shot as time expired.

“We conditioned our minds that its gonna be close, kailangan talaga pahirapan until the end,” Racela said. “Good thing the players were locked in, focusing on the game plan given that they have one day to adjust. But in the end, they were able to do it.”

Fajardo finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds, and seven blocks while Cabagnot added 24 points for the Beermen.

Scores:
TNT KATROPA 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.

Quarters: 20-15, 42-33, 65-59, 87-85.

What do you think?

Written by Jonas Terrado

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