Vic Manuel came off the bench and led the San Miguel Beermen’s fourth-period surge to stop TNT Tropang Giga, 109-100, and forcing a 1-all deadlock in their PBA Philippine Cup finals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday night, August 24.
With the win, the Beermen avenged themselves from their stinging 86-84 Game 1 loss on Sunday, August 21, via TNT player Jayson Castro’s buzzer-beating pull-up jump shot.
San Miguel firepower
Manuel finished with 20 big points, including eight from the fourth canto, with four rebounds. He along with Marcio Lassiter and Mo Tautuaa joined forces to build a 13-1 run at the start of the final quarter for the Beermen’s 95-80 advantage.
“Struggle kami ng husto sa Game 1, at pinagtrabahuhan namin ng husto ito ngayon (We really struggled big time in Game 1, and we really worked hard for this today),” Manuel, who at last came around from his silent performance in the previous game, said.
CJ Perez canned 23 points to lead the charge for the Beermen who showcased their depth and experience to level the race-to-four championship series.
While June Mar Fajardo was limited to only 13 markers, a far cry from his average scoring, his five other teammates carried the weight for San Miguel. Fajardo, however, grabbed eight rebounds, issued four assists, and made two blocks to still make his presence felt in the game.
Lassiter, Jericho Cruz, and Moala Tautuaa added 19, 12, and 11, respectively, for the Beermen who delivered 25 more points than they did in Game 1.
Coach less TNT
The Chot Reyes-less Tropang Giga, with assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga at the helm, seemed to have managed well in the first three periods as they engaged the Beermen in a fierce battle, grabbing a six-point lead.
But when the fourth quarter action began, TNT succumbed to a series of crucial errors that allowed the Beermen to build a 15-point rally, never looking back to seal their redemption.
The Beermen also survived Roger Pogoy’s sizzling performance. The latter churned out 28 points, eclipsing his 26-point Game 1 output. But his masterful offensive went down the drain as the Beermen, hungry to stay alive in the series, went all out for their comeback victory.
San Miguel’s heightened defense also left Pogoy scoreless in the payoff period.
TNT attempted to fight back behind Castro and Kelly Williams who erected a 5-0 run to trim their deficit to a single digit barely two minutes left but Tropang Giga’s two costly misses and Lassiter’s jumper in the last 40 seconds foiled their hopes.
Castro made 15 markers while Kib Montalbo had 14, Troy Rosario with 11, and Kelly Williams accounted for 10 points.
Reyes is serving his coaching duties in the men’s national basketball team Gilas Pilipinas who is competing in the fourth window of the ongoing FIBA World Cup qualifiers against Lebanon in Beirut on August 25 and against Saudi Arabia at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on August 29.
The Box Scores
San Miguel 109 – Perez 23, Manuel 20, Lassiter 19, Fajardo 13, Cruz 12, Tautuaa 11, Brondial 7, Ross 4, Enciso 0, Zamar 0.
TNT 100 – Pogoy 28, Castro 15, Montalbo 14, Rosario 11, K. Williams 10, M. Williams 7, Erram 7, Reyes 3, Ganuelas-Rosser 3, Khobuntin 2, Marcelo 0.
Quarters: 30-28, 51-51, 82-79, 109-100.