San Miguel KOs TNT to keep title defense alive
After a slow start to the conference, San Miguel is back in the semifinals after knocking out TNT with a 106-102 triumph in the quarterfinals of the 2018 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The defending champion Beermen swept their best-of-three series against the KaTropa and set up what should be an interesting match up against Alaska in the semifinals.
San Miguel held a 94-86 lead midway through the fourth after Marcio Lassiter’s jumper but the KaTropa slowly chipped away at that buffer mounting a 12-4 run to take a 98-98 tie after Jayson Castro’s triple with 2:03 left.
And it took the Beermen more than a minute to break the tie with Renaldo Balkman taking credit for the 100-98 lead after his two free throws with 45.1 seconds left.
“I think this is the first time we’ve been in the semifinals for the first time wherein we were playing in a best-of-three series,” said Beermen head coach Leo Austria, whose team started the conference on a 0-3 slump.
“We’re not familiar with this situation but this is a good challenge for us, after this game we’ve learned a lot. If we’re not able to come back that would be a disaster.”
TNT had a chance to take the lead after Balkman’s free throws but Terrence Romeo blundered his jumper and shot an air ball with 24.7 seconds left.
June Mar Fajardo then scored two more free throws for the 104-98 lead with 16.9 seconds left after getting a big defensive stop on Joshua Smith.
Balkman had 25 points and eight boards to lead the Beermen while Alex Cabagnot added 21 points, six rebounds, and six assists.
Fajardo had 19 points, 12 rebounds, and four steals for the defending champions while Chris Ross also tallied his own double-double of 11 points and 10 assists.
Romeo had 23 points and eight assists for the KaTropa while Smith had 21 points and 18 rebounds.
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