Beermen stop KaTropa, stay alive for do-or-die Game 7
Norman Lee Benjamin Riego on Feb 18, 2017 07:53 PM
ONE MORE MATCH. San Miguel emphatically did in its do-or-die game against TNT.
San Miguel still stands as champion in the 2016-2017 PBA Philippine Cup.
And whoever wants to win it all would have to go through them – for now, at least.
June Mar Fajardo and the rest of the battle-hardened veterans saw to that as the Beermen upended TNT, 104-88, on Saturday at the MOA Arena to extend their three-year reign a little longer.
Proving their heart in a must-win game, the old reliables came through for the defending champions and set up a winner-take-all Game 7 on Monday still in the same venue. “Naka-focus silang lahat. Actually, halos silang lahat, ayaw magpalabas sa laro dahil gusto nilang manalo,” a beaming coach Leo Austria said in his post-game conference.
Protecting a two-point lead with under 10 minutes remaining, Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot scored four points off of youngster Kris Rosales.
Jayson Castro then had a short stab to break the KaTropa’s silence only to see Cabagnot and June Mar Fajardo connive for nine unanswered points and an 88-75 San Miguel advantage inside the last six minutes.
The Beermen would enjoy the double-digit lead for the remainder of the game. “In spite of a below par performance in the first half, in the second half, I think yun yung ine-expect ng marami sa amin e,” Austria said.
The defending champions trailed by as much as 12 points in the third quarter before regrouping behind their old reliables. “The players didn’t give up. In that situation, we know when we’re down, kaya namin bumalik,” their mentor expressed.
All but one of Austria’s starters wound up in double-digits. Fajardo led the way, of course, with a 23-point, 21-rebound double-double.
Arwind Santos added 21 markers of his own and Cabagnot and Ross ended with 19 and 14 points, respectively, in San Miguel’s convincing victory.
TNT could not convert its first of two attempts at a Finals berth despite the best efforts of Castro who scored 19 points.
SAN MIGUEL 104 - Fajardo 23, Santos 21, Cabgnot 19, Ross 14, Garcia 9, Lassiter 7, Espinas 5, McCarthy 2, De Ocampo 2, Agovida 1, Tubid 1, Heruela 0, Reyes 0, Van Opstal 0.
TNT 88 - Castro 19, Pogoy 12, Fonacier 12, Reyes 9, Williams 8, Rosales 7, Tautuaa 6, De Ocampo 5, Carey 3, Tamsi 3, Rosser 2, Seigle 2, Golla 0, Sumalinog 0.
QUARTER SCORES: 26-27, 45-53, 70-69, 104-88.
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