SMB 111 – TNT 98
As we’ve previously mentioned, there are only two tiers in the PBA today: San Miguel and the others.
And there’s really just one question to answer whenever the Beermen play against any other team: is their opponent as good as them?
Make no mistake, TNT is in good shape. After missing the semifinals in three of the last four conferences, the KaTropa have bounced back and are playing their best basketball in recent memory.
Veterans like Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo continue to lead the team, but the emergence of youngsters like Mo Tautuaa, Troy Rosario, and Roger Pogoy has added a new dimension to the team’s system.
They’re really a good team.
But are they San Miguel-level, crazy ridiculously, outrageously, insanely good?
In another stellar display of their greatness, the Beermen showed what they’re made of in game one of their best-of-seven semifinals series on Wednesday, opening the series with triple after triple as the two-time defending Philippine Cup champions took a commanding 32-16 first quarter lead.
From there, it was all San Miguel until the end, drawing strength from starters and bench players alike.
The KaTropa staged several attempts to turn things around, chipping away at the huge lead and pulling within single digits in the fourth, but the Beermen always found a way to respond.
A fast break lay-up by Kelly Williams cut the deficit down to just 95-88, but Alex Cabagnot answered with five straight points, including a booming triple which extended the gap to 12.
TNT was never able to recover from that as San Miguel marched their way to victory.
Marcio Lassiter top-scored for the Beermen with 22 points, including a 4-of-7 mark from three-point area. He added eight rebounds and five assists. June Mar Fajardo chipped in 21 points on an efficient 10-of-14 shooting clip. Cabagnot added 20 markers while Chris Ross dished out a game-high 10 assists.
Jayson Castro had 27 points (11-of-17 from the field), eight assists, and three steals to lead the KaTropa, while Williams had an impressive ball game himself, finishing with 24 points (8-of-13 shooting), six rebounds, two steals, and a block.
TNT was pretty decent from the field at 44 percent. They had 56 inside points. But against the Beermen? Those numbers won’t make the cut.
The Beermen were even more spectacular, hitting 56 percent overall and 16-of-26 from three-point land, which included 12 in the first half alone. It didn’t help that TNT was only 6-of-26 from long range.
If there’s anything that can be picked up from the series opener, it’s that TNT is not yet at the same level as the Beermen. No other team really is at this point, and unless the KaTropa can pull some tricks out of their hat, this could be a quick series, which shall only magnify the obvious even more: in this conference, nobody can match the San Miguel Beermen.
Source: SLAM Philippines