KaTropa a tough match for Beermen
No three key men, no problem for the TNT KaTropa as they mastered the San Miguel Beermen again and reinforced their status as the toughest match for the reigning Philippine Cup champion in the pro league this season.
Hardly missing recent Gilas Pilipinas recruits Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario and Roger Pogoy, the KaTropa snapped the five-game winning streak of the Beermen in the Commissioner’s Cup with a 112-103 victory Friday.
The Beermen, who needed a Game 7 to eliminate the KaTropa in their PH Cup semifinal duel last February, struggled on both ends of the floor with the absence of another Gilas mainstay, the 6-foot-10 center June Mar Fajardo, and compounded their woes as Alex Cabagnot lost his shooting touch and a recent discard proved his worth in the TNT roster.
In outrebounding SMB, 58-46, the Ka Tropa went on top by as many as 14 points before Larry Fonacier secured TNT’s sixth win in eight games with back-to-back triples in the clutch.
Cabagnot, a reliable gunner when the game is on the line, scored only seven points and was outshone by RR Garcia, who made 12 in his first game since SMB traded him for TNT defense specialist Matt Genuelas Rosser.
The Star Hotshots, who contributed Allein Maliksi and Jio Jalalon to the Gilas roster, also bucked the odds Saturday with a 99-93 decision of defending champion Rain or Shine in Batangas City. Raymond Almazan likewise missed the game for the Elasto Painters as a member of the Gilas squad now preparing for the SEABA (Southeast Asian Basketball Association) championship the country will host next week.
The win moved the Hotshots into a tie for fourth with the KaTropa with both teams still in contention for the top two slots after the single round eliminations that will earn a twice-to-beat bonus in the quarterfinals.
Meralco, the only topnotch team whose lineup Gilas coach Chot Reyes did not touch for the SEABA campaign, routed Phoenix, 81-66, earlier Wednesday and the Bolts found themselves on top with a 7-1 record following the loss that dropped SMB to second at 5-1.
Barangay Ginebra San Miguel (4-1) was hoping to forge a tie with SMB with a win over Alaska (4-2) in a game going on at presstime last night. Rain or Shine fell to seventh at 4-3 with Phoenix solidifying its hold of the eighth and last qualifying slot to the quarterfinals at 4-5 after rolling back GlobalPort, 84-72, also Friday.
The Batang Pier and the Blackwater Elite, both at 2-8, seemed out of it all.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.