San Miguel Beer asserts mastery of TNT KaTropa in heated grudge match
Tempers flare in the rematch between Commissioner's Cup Finals protagonists San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa on Wednesday night. Jerome Ascano

SAN Miguel Beer asserted its mastery of TNT Katropa, hacking out a 97-91 decision in a emotionally charged game to build momentum in the PBA Governors’ Cup on Wednesday night at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

The Beermen saw a tough stand from the Texters as expected, needing a late surge to fend off their opponents in a rematch of the last Commissioner’s Cup Finals.

June Mar Fajardo towered over everybody and registered 27 points, six boards, and five blocks, while Wendell McKines added 22 points and nine boards for the Beermen, who registered a second straight win and dealt the Texters their first loss after starting the conference with a win.

“I really didn’t know how beat them tonight,” SMB coach Leo Austria admitted. “We played tentative because of the eagerness of the players, with some trying to play the way we played in the finals. But I told them it’s not that easy to beat Talk ‘N Text.”

“But after the first half, we were able to regroup and told them na we don’t have to play their game,” he added. “They were trying to be physical with us.”

True enough, the Beermen settled down after trailing by as many as 10 points in the first half, refusing to get affected by the physicality and focusing on their game that resulted in turning the game around and building a lead that grew to 14 points, 93-79, following a McKines basket with three minutes and 28 seconds left.

The Texters, though, didn’t go down without a fight as they went on a 12-4 run, capped by back-to-back triples from Roger Pogoy, to cut the deficit to just six points, only for the rally to come a little too late.

Marcio Lassiter heated up after a slow start as he scored all his 16 points in the second half, including a running bank shot that beat the third-quarter buzzer and gave the Beermen a one-point lead heading into the final frame.

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Alex Cabagnot added 15 points, six rebounds, and three assists, two steals, and one block, while Chris Ross shrugged off his early technical foul in the second quarter following a commotion with Pogoy and Jayson Castro as he finished with 10 assists, eight boards, and four points.

Michael Craig, coming off a triple-double showing, registered 16 points, 18 boards, four assists, and three steals in 35 minutes to lead the Texters in a losing effort.

 

SMB 97 – Fajardo 27, McKines 22, Lassiter 16, Cabagnot 15, Santos 7, Heruela 5, Ross 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Espinas 0

TNT 91 – Craig 16, Castro 14, Tautuaa 10, Pogoy 10, De Ocampo 10, Williams 8, Garcia 8, Semerad 6, Rosario 5, Carey 4, Hernandez 0

Quarterscores: 17-24; 40-40; 66-65; 97-91

Follow the writer on Twitter: @KarloSacamos