There were no let-ups from TNT this time around, as the KaTropa showed poise to beat San Miguel Beermen, 93-88, to send their PBA Philippine Cup quarterfinal series to a decider, Monday at SMART Araneta Coliseum.
TNT lost hold of an eight-point lead, as San Miguel tied the game at 86-all with 1:43 left to play. Troy Rosario and Jayson Castro then came to the rescue to avenge the stinging 78-80 loss they suffered in Game One last Saturday.
“We’re just lucky. We just tied the series. But we have nothing to celebrate,” said TNT head coach Bong Ravena.
Roger Pogoy paced TNT with 20 points and nine rebounds. Castro fell short of a double-double as well, as he produced 19 points and nine assists with three steals. Meanwhile, Rosario provided 15 points built on three triples with 12 rebounds.
Just like in Game One, the Texters sat in the driver’s seat in the majority of the match, even leading by as many as 11 points, 54-43, at the end of the first half. They had a favorable 86-78 cushion with 4:55 remaining in the fourth quarter.
But the Beermen stormed back from that deficit. With reigning five-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo at the forefront yet again, San Miguel sent the game into a deadlock at 86-all with 1:43 left to pay.
That was the last run that they could put together, though. Castro attacked the middle but immediately located Rosario on the right corner. The latter did not waste the dime, as he made a booming trey, 89-86, with 1:04 to go.
Arwind Santos tried to tie the game, but his triple from the wing hit air. That allowed TNT to set up on the other end, and it led to Castro striking the dagger through a tough lay-up, 91-86, with 29.2 ticks left to play.
Fajardo led the defending four-time all-Filipino champs with 26 points and 19 rebounds. Christian Standhardinger made 18 points and eight rebounds, while Alex Cabagnot chimed in 16 markers, three boards, and two assists.
Terrence Romeo added 12 markers on 13 shot attempts.
Game Three will be on Wednesday, April 10, still at the Big Dome. The winner will face the Phoenix Pulse Fuel Masters in a best-of-seven semifinal series.
TNT 93 – Pogoy 20, Castro 19, Rosario 15, Trollano 12, Reyes 9, Washington 5, Semerad, A. 4, Williams 4, Taha 4, Heruela 1, Carey 0.
San Miguel 88 – Fajardo 26, Standhardinger 18, Cabagnot 16, Romeo 12, Ross 6, Lassiter 5, Santos 5, Tubid 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Nabong 0, Pessumal 0.
Quarterscores: 20-19, 54-43, 73-68, 93-88.