Game Wednesday (Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – TNT KaTropa vs San Miguel
(San Miguel leads series 2-1)
By JONAS TERRADO
The intensity picked up last night in the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals, so did the form of the San Miguel Beermen.
San Miguel took control of the second half with birthday boy Charles Rhodes, Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross leading the charge and beat TNT KaTropa, 109-97, for a 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven championship series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Rhodes turned 32 years old in style and produced 25 points and 20 rebounds, even as Cabagnot and Ross played true to their status as the top contenders for the Best Player of the Conference award with 28 and 17 points, respectively, to help the Beermen register their second straight win.
In perhaps their best game of the playoffs, San Miguel had to overcome a tension-filled first half that spilled near the locker rooms when some members of the Beermen coaching staff nearly got into TNT’s apparent Governors’ Cup import Michael Craig.
Craig, who was watching from the stands alongside TNT’s standby import Mike Myers, pushed the guard rail as both teams were leaving the court at halftime, hitting San Miguel governor Robert Non and a female team official, resulting in a near-fight.
Cooler heads eventually prevailed, with extra curricular activities being a rare occurrence in the second half. The only thing that sizzled the rest of the way were the Beermen’s play.
“We didn’t have any major adjustment, we just kept our intensity high,” said Beermen coach Leo Austria.
Austria and his battle-tested squad can put a stranglehold in the series with another victory on Wednesday at the Big Dome.
Lassiter had his best game of the series with 16 points, finally breaking out of a slump after missing his first 11 shots from three-point country. He also had seven assists, some resulted in Fajardo baskets.
Fajardo surprisingly had six points and five rebounds but did his job guarding TNT’s huge import Joshua Smith.
RR Garcia topscored with 19 points, Smith had 18 points and 14 rebounds and Jayson Castro added 17 points and 10 assists for the KaTropa, who are in a quandary as they look to equalize the series.
“We committed a lot of turnovers and that’s basically the problem,” said Racela, who noted TNT’s 23 turnovers which San Miguel converted into 26 points.
SAN MIGUEL 109 – Cabagnot 28, Rhodes 25, Ross 17, Lassiter 16, Santos 10, Fajardo 6, Heruela 5, Semerad 2, Tubid 0, Espinas 0.
TNT 97 – Garcia 19Smith 18, Castro 17, Semerad 12, De Ocampo 9, Williams 8, Tautuaa 7, Reyes 7, Pogoy 0, Rosario 0.
Quarterscores: 23-23, 46-47, 79-72, 109-97.