TNT up 2-1 over SMB
TNT Katropa survived a tight endgame with San Miguel Beer on Sunday night to post a 98-92 victory at Smart Araneta Coliseum, giving the Texters a 2-1 edge over the defending champion Beermen in their rugged PBA Philippine Cup Final Four series.
After dealing the Beermen their first losing streak of the season, TNT coach Nash Racela has counterpart Leo Austria on the ropes and can now afford to play the mind game.
First was Racela thanking the referees for calling the fouls on San Miguel cornerstone June Mar Fajardo.
Secondly, he asked Austria to continue playing the zone defense—the very defense that his Texters have cracked to win the last two games.
“I am just thankful that, finally, the referees have called the fouls on June Mar,” Racela said as if exhorting game officials to keep on doing the same for Game 4, slated this Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay.
“Last game, he played 40 minutes and was called for just [one] foul,” he said.
“They (referees) are calling it now and because of that, we had a great chance [of winning Game 3].”
The 6-foot-10 Fajardo picked up a fifth foul with a shade under six minutes left and was able to play just over 30 minutes. He finished with 16 points and nine rebounds and contributed just a free throw in the fourth period.
Veteran power forward Ranidel de Ocampo and sweet-shooting rookie RR Pogoy were big in the stretch, hitting the shots that hurt the Beermen the most as both combined for close to half of the TNT total.
The Texters hit 11 of 29 triple tries and were four percent from the field overall, and Racela hinted on tinkering with his game plan for Game 4.
In the other Final Four series, Star will come into Monday’s 7 p.m. contest listed as the slight favorite to post a 3-0 lead, as Barangay Ginebra struggles with manpower woes caused by the continued absence of the
7-foot Greg Slaughter and Joe Devance joining him last week.
Records show that 84 percent of teams (38 of 45 squads) that have taken 2-0 leads in a best-of-seven series eventually wrap up the contest.
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