TNT KaTropa showed admirable poise in the endgame as it held off San Miguel Beer, 101-94, on Thursday night to move on the verge of reaching the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Kelly Williams and Jayson Castro hit the biggest baskets in the clutch as the Texters weathered the Beermen’s late rally in Game Five to move a win away from ending SMB's two-year reign as all-Filipino champion.
The Texters atoned for their 97-86 loss in Game Four on Valentine’s night as they took a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven series to move one win away from their first finals appearance since the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup, also the last time they won a championship.
“I think they (Beermen) made their adjustments. Credit to their coaches for…making it hard for us, but credit also to our coaches,” TNT coach Nash Racela said. “We made our counter adjustments and I think it worked.”
“It was again a total team effort for us,” the young coach added.
Game Six is on Saturday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The old reliables shone brightest on Thursday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Castro scored 11 of his 18 points in the final frame, the last two on a fadeaway jumper that gave the Texters a 93-85 lead, before Williams negated June Mar Fajardo’s two charities with a reverse layup that regained for TNT its eight-point lead, enough cushion to hold on.
Williams poured in eight of his 18 points and added seven boards, three steals, and one assist in 25 minutes, while Ranidel de Ocampo was the third Texter who finished with 18 points on top of four rebounds in 28 minutes.
The Beermen nudged to within 83-82 after a Gabby Espinas three-point play, before the Texters banked on a 12-5 run capped by that Williams reverse over Fajardo to give enough separation.
Arwind Santos paced the Beermen with 18 points and six boards, while four other teammates scored in double figures.
Chris Ross was among them with 15 markers, but knocked down just one of his six treys after burying five in the last game.
TNT 101 – Castro 18, Williams 18, De Ocampo 18, Pogoy 11, Reyes 9, Rosales 8, Fonacier 7, Seigle 4, Carey 2, Tautuaa 2, Rosario 2, Rosser 0, Golla 0, Sumalinog 0
SMB 94 – Santos 18, Cabagnot 17, Lassiter 16, Ross 15, Fajardo 13, Espinas 9, Reyes 4, Garcia 2, Agovida 0, Tubid 0
Quarterscores: 24-32, 50-40, 73-69, 101-94