TNT 87 – SMB 85
Last night’s semifinals match between TNT KaTropa and the San Miguel Beermen can probably be summed up by the last possession of both sides.
With the score at 87-85, 28 seconds left in the game, coming off a timeout, Talk ’N Text killed clock, before Jayson Castro made his move. He drove, collapsed the defense, and then kicked it out to Troy Rosario above the arc, who launched a triple that missed. Ranidel De Ocampo did get the offensive board, but Chris Ross wrestled the ball away with enough time for San Miguel to force an extra five minutes, or steal this one completely.
TNT had actually led the majority of this game, going up by as much as 11 points. But San Miguel was relentless. Not only were they able to stay within striking distance, they actually led in the third and in the fourth.
The Beermen last had the lead at 82-80 with 2:36 left in the match, behind June Mar Fajardo free throws. TNT countered with a 7-0 burst, only for Castro to foul Alex Cabagnot on a three-point try, resulting in three made charities that got the score to 87-85, under a minute to go.
Now it seemed like San Miguel was going to pull off quite the rally.
“Seemed” being the operative word.
After a timeout, the Beermen had 6.2 seconds to work with. But after the ball was inbounded to Cabagnot, TNT doubled him immediately, forcing him to give up the rock to Arwind Santos on the wing. Ronald Tubid moved to set a screen for Santos, but with TNT deciding to double Santos as well, Arwind basically had no space to work with, and the Beermen failed to get a shot up before the buzzer sounded. Game to TNT.
On paper, TNT has the firepower to matchup against San Miguel, but if the Texters are to win the series, they have to play tight defense. And that’s exactly what happened in game two. From 111 points in game one, the Beermen were held to just 85 markers, and the Texters’ excellent D on the final play exemplified their effort.
Sure, they remained within striking distance all throughout, but it was an ugly affair. SMB shot just 37 percent from the field, with Fajardo and Cabagnot the only starters hitting at a better than 40 percent clip. “The Kraken” had a double-double of 25 points and 11 rebounds, with seven blocks, while Cabagnot had 24 markers on 18 attempts, highlighted by a 5-of-8 stint from downtown.
Cabagnot provided the majority of San Miguel’s long-range artillery. Marcio Lassister was just 3-of-14 overall for eight markers, 1-of-6 on three’s. Santos scored nine points on a 4-of-14 clip. He was 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. Ronald Tubid had the sole three-point attempt off the bench, which he missed.
TNT took full advantage of that missing aspect of SMB’s game. It also helped that their ‘Big Three’ – Castro, De Ocampo, and Rosario – all shot better than 50 percent, en route to 37 markers.
When San Miguel is clicking, they’re a pick-your-poison squad. You can let June Mar Fajardo rampage down low, one-on-one, or you can double him, but concede open looks from their shooters. In this one, they got the majority of their buckets off TNT miscues (29 turnover points vs. 14), something the Tropa will definitely look to tighten up on in game three.
The big question looking ahead will be whether or not San Miguel will continue to shoot like this. Even if Lassiter and Santos continue to struggle, the Beermen still have other options on their bench, such as RR Garcia, and Keith Agovida. They can also opt to keep pounding the ball inside like they did in this one. Both Mo Tautuaa and Kelly Williams were whistled for five fouls. SMB just didn’t make their free throws, finishing 14-of-22 (the Texters also missed charities, going 10-of-23).
For much of this conference, SMB has been an invincible juggernaut, seemingly on the fast lane to a return trip to the Finals. Talk ’N Text though has the tools to put up more than a few potholes on that road. And if things continue to line up well for them, the Tropa could be in position to force the Beermen to crash out completely.
Source: SLAM Philippines