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Jones-McCullough matchup seems mouth-watering

A one-on-one between Terrence Jones of the TNT KaTropa and Chris McCullough of the San Miguel Beermen?

After humbling four local Beermen for 41 points that powered TNT to an impressive 109-96 win over SMB at the start of their championship series for the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Sunday, Jones may just find himself working against fellow import McCullough in Game 2 of their best-of-seven series this Wednesday.

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McCullough was just as efficient offensively for SMB with 33 points but Jones provided more with his overall performance on both ends of the floor. He kept TNT’s offensive machine humming by also issuing eight assists while grabbing 12 rebounds and blocking three shots.

After practically gobbling up the defense of Christian Stanhardinger, Arwind Santos and Kelly Nabong to fire 26 points in the first half, Chris Ross somehow limited Jones to only 15 in the second half although there was no disputing the outcome by then.

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Back in the finals for the first time since the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup won by SMB in six games, TNT highlighted its ominous start with a 20-point run that included 12 from Jones and boosted the KaTropa ahead at 37-19 early in the second quarter. The lead went up to 78-55 in the third period after Jones hit the third of his three-pointers.

TNT coach Bong Ravena said the Beermen may be a little bit tired, having rested only a day after completing a semifinal victory over Rain or Shine in four games Friday. The KaTropa enjoyed a two-day break after ousting the defending champion Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings also in four games to reach the finals.

It was actually the second TNT conquest of SMB in the series which the Beermen hope to win to add to their Philippine Cup victory last May. Jones also outscored then SMB import Charles Rhodes, 30-20, in the 110-97 win for a 4-1 card that became a leading 10-1 slate when the eliminations ended.

Rhodes, the Best Import when SMB triumphed in 2017, lasted seven games before McCullough took over and saved the Beermen’s campaign. McCullough debuted with a 47-point job against NLEX and followed it up with a 37-point performance against Phoenix Pulse. His PBA high was 51 when Rain or Shine beat SMB, 112-104, in Game 3 of their semifinal series.

Tapping McCullough against Jones for the rest of the series would be a great sidelight of this first ever PBA duel between two former first-round NBA picks. Jones was picked 18th overall by the Houston Rockets in 2012 while McCullough was drafted 29th overall by the Brooklyn Nets in 2015.

So how about it SMB coach Leo Austria?

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TAGS: Basketball, Chris McCullough, PBA, Terrence Jones
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