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Smith plows through Ginebra, powers TNT to 1-0 lead

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The TNT Katropa had to avert an end-game scare by the ever-gutsy Barangay Ginebra San Miguel to draw first blood, 100-94, in the curtain-raiser of their best-of-five semifinal series, Sunday night at the SM Mall of Asia Arena.

Import Joshua Smith starred for the Katropa with 35 points on 16-of-22 shooting alongside 13 rebounds, with 11 coming from the offensive end that saw him finish with a handful of and-one plays. He also had four assists.

“Well again, just like the last game, again if you give him minutes, he will give you the numbers,” lauded TNT head coach Nash Racela of the 25-year-old American, TNT’s fourth import this mid-season conference.

The Gin Kings, who were once down by 15 in the third juncture, managed to close within striking distance, 92-90, after an 11-5 spree ended by a Scottie Thompson lay-up with 2:49 to go in the payoff period.

Roger Pogoy nailed a wing triple to widen TNT’s lead, 95-90, in the 1:34 mark, but Ginebra closed once more, 95-92, 33 seconds later, after Smith’s block on Joe Devance’s shot was ruled as a goaltending violation.

The Ginebra inched nearer again, 97-94, after a Justin Brownlee jumper, but that proved to be their last hurrah as Jayson Castro pulled up for a triple and made it — his only field goal out of 10 shots — to put the Barangay down and out.

As Game Two is set on Tuesday, June 13, 7:00 PM, still at the same venue, the first-year head coach is already expecting coach Tim Cone and the Barangay make plenty of adjustments as they aim to bounce back.

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“Looking forward to adjustments in the second game. It’s a tough game,” said Racela.

Pogoy added 17 markers spiked by three triples for the team in blue, while Ranidel de Ocampo chipped in 12 points and five boards. Castro only made four, but compensated for it with a team-high six dimes.

Brownlee led the Barangay with 24 points on 11-of-20 shooting, to go with 14 rebounds, six assists, and two steals. LA Tenorio and Japeth Aguilar each supplied 15 markers, while Devance and Kevin Ferrer each had 10.

The Katropa nailed 40 of their 83 attempts, with most of those coming from the 24 assists they had. Their bench also played superb with 67 points. However, they had 17 turnovers, which Ginebra converted to 19 points.

The Scores:

TNT (100) – Smith 35, Pogoy 17, De Ocampo 12, Garcia 8, Rosario 6, Semerad 6, Williams 5, Castro 4, Rosales 4, Reyes 2, Carey 0.

Ginebra (94) – Brownlee 24, Tenorio 15, Aguilar 15, Devance 10, Ferrer 10, Mercado 7, Thompson 7, Marcelo 4, Ellis 2, Caguioa 0.

Quarterscores: 23-13, 45-37, 73-66, 100-94.

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