TNT Katropa finally found cracks in San Miguel Beer’s armor as it hacked out an 87-85 victory on Friday night to even their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series at one game apiece.
The Texters built an early lead before weathering a late rally by the Beermen, putting up a tough defensive stand in the final seconds to deny Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos a shot at tying basket or, worse, a game-winning three-pointer.
Roger Pogoy scored the layup that put the Texters up for good before Jayson Castro and Ranidel de Ocampo came through with their own baskets down the stretch to help snap SMB’s 11-game winning streak.
De Ocampo and Larry Fonacier also ganged up on Santos, denying the SMB a look at the basket as the final buzzer sounded.
“We conditioned our minds that it was going to be close,” TNT coach Nash Racela said after his team atoned for a 13-point loss in the one-sided series opener. “Good thing the players were really locked in today.”
Game Three is on Sunday at the Big Dome.
Seven players, led by Troy Rosario, scored in twin digits for the Texters, but it was their defense that complete the job as they limited the Beermen to just 38-percent shooting, including a 7-of-26 clip from beyond the arc.
With SMB’s snipers, especially Marcio Lassiter (1-of-6 from three-point land) misfiring, the Texters could afford another dominant performance by June Mar Fajardo, who scattered 25 points, 11 boards, and seven blocks.
Fajardo led SMB’s comeback, scoring 10 of his output in the final frame, including the last two from the free-throw line that gave the Beermen their last taste of the lead at 82-80.
After Kelly Williams split his charities, Pogoy scored a the layup that gave the lead back to the Texters at 83-82, before Castro and De Ocampo converted their own layups to give the Texters a five-point lead.
Alex Cabagnot hit three charities to pull the Beermen to within two and had a chance to orchestrate a game-winning play, but his pass to Arwind Santos was a bit high, denying his teammate to gather himself for a decent shot in the dying seconds in the face of TNT’s swarming defense.
TNT 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
SMB 85 – Fajardo 25, Cabagnot 24, Santos 9, Espinas 8, Lassiter 8, Agovida 7, Ross 4, De Ocampo 0, Garcia 0, Reyes 0, Tubid 0
Quarterscores: 20-15, 42-33, 65-59, 87-85