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PBA Finals: As Game 7 beckons, TNT and SMB break 2-2 deadlock


By Jonas Terrado

Game Wednesday
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. — San Miguel vs TNT KaTropa
(Series tied 2-2)

Series Summary:
Game 1 — TNT KaTropa 109, San Miguel 96
Game 2 — San Miguel 127, TNT KaTropa 125 (2OT)
Game 3 — TNT KaTropa 115, San Miguel 105
Game 4 — San Miguel 106, TNT KaTropa 101

The consistency of key personnel will be crucial in the chances of San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa to gain the pivotal 3-2 lead in Game 5 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

San Miguel Beer's June Mar Fajardo tries to score off TNT KaTropa's Terrence Jones during Game 4 of PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals. (PBA Images)

San Miguel Beer’s June Mar Fajardo (15) works on the board against TNT KaTropa’s Terrence Jones during Game 4 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals. (PBA Images)

Both teams are banking on their main players to step up in the 7 p.m. affair after seeing them perform with mixed results in the first four games of the best-of-seven series.

Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross have provided import Chris McCullough and June Mar Fajardo the needed support during SMB’s victories in Games 2 and 4 compared to when TNT won Games 1 and 3.

Cabagnot averaged 22.0 points on 16-of-32 shooting with 3.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists during the two wins but only produced 3.0 points on a 2-of-11 clip with 3.0 rebounds and 3.0 assists in the two defeats.

Ross, on the other hand, was able to keep himself away from playing mind games with TNT import Terrence Jones and turned in seven points, six rebounds, eight assists and two steals in Sunday’s 106-101 win that tied the series.

TNT, on the other hand, has seen Roger Pogoy play on-and-off since the series began.

While averaging 17.0 points on 43-percent shooting in the Finals, Pogoy could only make 11 threes out of 33 attempts, including a combined 4-of-16 during the two losses.

Meanwhile, Best Import Terrence Jones of TNT and SMB counterpart Chris McCullough are eager to carry the load for their teams anew while Gatorade Best Player of the Conference Jayson Castro and runner-up June Mar Fajardo look to stay productive.

Castro had 19.5 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.5 assists and 2.0 steals through four games. However, the national team veteran will need to make less turnovers after committing four each in Games 2 and 4 where the KaTropa lost.

Fajardo, with averages of 21.0 points and 8.8 rebounds, could end up with another Finals Most Valuable Player if SMB ends up lifting the Commissioner’s Cup trophy.

However, the 6-foot-10 center will need to make his presence felt like he did in Game 4 when he made 10 straight points during a 12-0 run that put the Beermen in front for good.

TNT has gotten good offensive numbers from Troy Rosario, whose 21.8 leads all the team in scoring. Rosario has also made 14 threes, including eight during the KaTropa’s 127-125 double overtime loss in Game 2.

KaTropa coach Bong Ravena and consultant Mark Dickel are also banking on Don Trollano, who has been a revelation throughout the playoffs, and heady guard Brian Heruela.

SMB mentor Leo Austria, meanwhile, is relying on Terrence Romeo’s scoring, Arwind Santos’ veteran presence, Christian Standhardinger’s physicality and Von Pessumal’s timely shooting.

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