The TNT KaTropa are a step closer to the finals after posting a 101-94 win over the San Miguel Beermen in Game 5 of the 2017 Oppo PBA Philippine Cup semifinals Thursday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Instrumental in TNT’s victory were veterans Jayson Castro and Kelly Williams. The duo combined for 19 points in the fourth quarter to help their team move a win away from the finals.
Castro finished with 18 points and seven assists, while Williams also had 18 points and seven rebounds.
“We’re gelling finally. We got a good mix of young guys and veterans doing their part. It’s all effort from everybody. I can’t speak enough of the heart of this team,” said Williams, who was named Player of the Game. “But the job is not done yet. It’s gonna be a battle the rest of the way.”
Ranidel de Ocampo ended up with 18 as well, while RR Pogoy added 11 markers.
TNT started the game strong, hitting its first three attempts from beyond the arc to take an early 12-5 lead. SMB got its bearings after a few plays and ended the opening period with an 8-0 blast to take a 32-24 lead. But The KaTropa turned the tables in the next frame. They scored 26 points, while limiting the Beermen to only eight, to go up by 10 at the break, 50-40.
Pogoy and Ryan Reyes had nine and eight points, respectively, for TNT which shot 45% from the field in the first two quarters. The KaTropa also got 21 points off SMB’s 12 first-half turnovers.
San Miguel, however, came out of the locker room with more fire. The Beermen opened the third canto on a 20-7 surge, capped by a three-pointer from Alex Cabagnot, to take the lead, 60-57. Arwind Santos extended SMB’s margin to six on a turnaround jumper, but TNT crawled within two, 64-62, after a basket from Mo Tautuaa, four minutes left in the quarter.
A triple from Ranidel de Ocampo put the KaTropa back on top, 65-64, but two free throws from Cabagnot allowed San Miguel to retake the lead. Both teams exchanged baskets on the next two plays until TNT gained a three-point edge, 71-68, after back-to-back hits from Kelly Williams. After a three from RR Garcia, Kris Rosales hit a baseline jumper to push the margin to five. Cabagnot made a split from the line to trim the deficit to four, 73-69, to end the third frame.
Jayson Castro scored five straight — a three-pointer and a baseline jumper over June Mar Fajardo — to make it 80-72 in favor of TNT at the 9:16 mark of the final period. Lassiter knocked down his own triple and Gabby Espinas completed a three-point play as SMB came within a single point, 83-82, midway in the quarter. But Castro made four consecutive points and Ryan Reyes fed Williams inside to give the KaTropa an 89-82 edge.
Arwind Santos converted two attempts from the stripe at the 3:23 mark to make it 89-84. But on two straight offensive possessions, TNT made baskets to remain in control, 93-85, a little over two minutes left in the game.
Fajardo finally hit a pair of freebies to cut the lead down to six, but Williams responded on the other end to push it back to eight, 1:02 remaining. The Beermen made it a six-point game again after a layup from Chris Ross, but Williams converted on both his free throws attempts to ice the game, 97-89. Cabagnot’s triple pulled SMB within five, but Pogoy made a layup to clinch the game for the KaTropa, who can advance to the Philippine Cup finals if they win Game 6 on Saturday.
Santos led the Beermen with 18 points and six boards.
TNT 101 – Castro 18, Williams 18, De Ocampo 18, Pogoy 11, Reyes 9, Rosales 8, Fonacier 7, Seigle 4, Carey 2, Tautuaa 2, Rosario 2, Rosser 0, Golla 0, Sumalinog 0.
SAN MIGUEL 94 – Santos 18, Cabagnot 17, Lassiter 16, Ross 15, Fajardo 13, Espinas 9, Reyes 4, Garcia 2, Agovida 0, Tubid 0.
Quarterscores: 24-32, 50-40, 73-69, 101-94.
– TNT has won a game in this series every time Ranidel de Ocampo scores in double figures. He scored 13 and 24 points in Games 2 and 3, respectively. In Game 5, he had 18.
– All of San Miguel’s starters played more than 30 minutes in Game 5. For TNT, only Jayson Castro played over 30 minutes.
– Troy Rosario reportedly might miss Game 6 because of his wedding on Saturday.