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PBA: TNT downs Ginebra, seizes semis lead

by Waylon Galvez

Game Today (Mall of Asia Arena)
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs Star
(Star leads series 1-0)

TNT's Joshua Smith tries to stop Ginebra's Japeth Aguilar (left) and Kevin Ferrer from rebounding during the PBA Commissioner's Cup Semifinals (MB Photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

TNT’s Joshua Smith tries to stop Ginebra’s Japeth Aguilar (left) and Kevin Ferrer from rebounding during the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Semifinals (MB Photo | Rio Leonelle Deluvio)

At one point midway in the fourth quarter, TNT KaTropa import Joshua Smith got the ball down low, and after a few dribbles with his back to the basket he turned and scored against three defenders while being fouled by Barangay Ginebra San Miguel’s Japeth Aguilar.

Smith let out a howl, got high fives from his teammates as he slowly set himself at the free throw line.

That was the bread and butter for the KaTropa as Smith bulldozed his way for 35 points off the bench to power TNT to a 100-94 win against top seed Ginebra in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinal series last night at the Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City.

Listed at 6-foot-10, the 290-pound Smith dismantled every defense thrown at him by the Kings, shooting 16-of-22 from the field – mostly from inside the painted area – while adding 13 rebounds.

“It’s like the last game, give him the minutes and he’ll give you the numbers,” said TNT mentor Nash Racela of Smith, who exploded for 31 points with 27 rebounds in the team’s do-or-die Game 3 victory against Meralco in the quarterfinal playoffs last Friday.

“Ginebra’s defense, they really trying on neutralizing Joshua – two or three guys (defending him). I’m sure mapapagod, kanina pagod na. Although they (Ginebra) have the advantage of rest, you just have to plug in and look of ways to win,” added Racela.

The 25-year-old Smith, who played college ball for UCLA and Georgetown and idolizes NBA legend Shaquille O’Neil, was the team’s third import as he came in as replacement to Donte Green.

TNT also got contributions from the locals as rookie Roger Pogoy had with 17 points, veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo added 12 points, and Jayson Castro – despite his struggles all game – made a big a dagger shot.

With the KaTropa up by just five points, 97-92, after import Justin Brownlee connected a basket, Castro buried a booming three-pointer that gave them a 100-92 lead with 12.2 seconds left.

Prior to that, Castro – a two-time member of FIBA-Asia’s Mythical Team – was 0-9 from the field. That shot was his only field goal in nearly 28 minutes of action as he scored four points.

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.

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