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Ailing Smith comes up big in clutch, gives TNT Game 1



Joshua Smith’s lay-up off a drive with 1.6 ticks left saved the TNT Katropa from a serious San Miguel Beermen threat, 104-102, in Game One of the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup Finals, Wednesday night at the SMART-Araneta Coliseum.

The burly import, who gave a little scare to the Katropa side as he appeared to have aggravated his foot injury and went to the dugout with 3:20 left in the third frame, finished with 21 markers alongside nine rebounds.

TNT were already up nine, 98-89, with 4:30 to go in the payoff period, but San Miguel turned the tables all of a sudden as they sprinted to a 9-0 run ended by Cabagnot’s elbow jumper, to tie things up at 98 with 2:21 on the clock.

An exchange of split charities from Smith and Charles Rhodes made it 99-all, until Jayson Castro unleashed a cold-blooded triple all over June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross to put the Katropa up, 102-99, with 44.2 seconds left.

Rhodes and Ross were sent to the line in different occasions, and their foul shots allowed the Beermen to send it to yet another deadlock at 102 with 7.6 ticks remaining — the third deadlock in the game’s final three minutes.

From there, the Smith magic took place. He got the ball from the top of the key and scanned the floor for possible recipients, but no one was available. He then attacked Fajardo’s defense, and trickled in the lay-up with 1.6 ticks left.

Without any timeouts left, Rhodes inbounded the ball to Lassiter, who had ample time to pull up from deep. His shot missed badly though, and Smith was there to grab the board and seal the much-needed victory.

Rookie Roger Pogoy was TNT’s top scorer with 27 points, 13 coming from the payoff period, on 50 percent shooting spiked by five treys. He also hauled down five rebounds and played the passing lanes nicely with three steals.

Castro was a rebound shy of a triple-double with 14 points, nine rebounds, and 10 assists. RR Garcia chipped in 13 markers, while Troy Rosario had 10.

Rhodes led the Beermen with 31 points, with 21 coming from the first quarter alone, alongside 13 caroms. However, he committed six turnovers. Fajardo also had a double-double of 18 points and 13 rebounds, to go with two blocks.

Cabagnot nearly had a double-double of 16 points and nine rebounds. Ross, meanwhile, displayed all-around brilliance with 11 points, seven boards, 12 assists, and three steals. Arwind Santos had 11.

The Katropa’s defense forced San Miguel to 23 turnovers, which they converted to 27 points. Their depth was also highlighted, as their bench provided 46 points to their total output, a far cry from SMB’s 18.

Game Two is set on Friday, June 23, 7:00 PM still at the Big Dome.

The Scores:

TNT (104) – Pogoy 27, Smith 21, Castro 14, Garcia 13, Rosario 10, Tautuaa 7, Semerad 5, Williams 5, Rosales 2, Golla 0, Carey 0, Nuyles 0.

San Miguel (102) – Rhodes 31, Fajardo 18, Cabagnot 16, Ross 11, Santos 11, Lassiter 8, De Ocampo 6, Espinas 1, Tubid 0.

Quarterscores: 24-31, 56-51, 75-73, 104-102.