Defending champion San Miguel Beer relied on Chris Ross to thump Talk ‘N Text (TNT) KaTropa, 97-86, in Game 4 of the best-of-seven semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Tuesday.
Ross, last year’s Philippine Cup finals Most Valuable Player, posted a career-high 31 points on top of five assists, five rebounds and two steals. Three-time MVP June Mar Fajardo posted 15 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the field, 15 rebounds and four blocks as the Beermen even the series at 2-2.
“I’m so happy that we equalized the series,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria during the postgame interview. “I have to commend my players because they knew our situation that’s why they played with a sense of urgency especially Chris Ross.”
Marcio Lassiter finished with 12 points, 12 assists and six rebounds, Alex Cabagnot added another 12 points while Gabby Espinas contributed 10 points also for SMB.
“I have to appreciate that guy (Chris Ross). Every time June Mar (Fajardo) is inside, he is always a threat. We have to play our game and we were able to dictate the tempo of the game. I think that was crucial for us.”
After trailing by one point, 18-19, in the first period, the Beermen pulled away from KaTropa via a 26-13 run behind the prowess of Ross and Espinas in the second quarter resulting in a 44-32 lead at the halftime break.
Ross’ 18 points output in the third canto highlighted San Miguel Beer’s 32-26 attack that gave the Beermen a 76-58 edge going into the fourth quarter.
TNT managed to narrow the gap to just ten points, 68-78, after Ranidel De Ocampo’s basket with still 8:28 to go in the last canto but the Beermen smothered all their attempts for a comeback until the final buzzer.
Larry Fonacier led TNT with 15 points while Jayson Castro had 13 points and six assists.
SMB 97 – Ross 31, Fajardo 15, Lassiter 12, Cabagnot 12, Espinas 10, Garcia 8, Santos 7, Tubid 2, Y. De Ocampo 0, Reyes 0, Heruela 0.
TNT 86 – Fonacier 15, Castro 13, Tautuaa 12, Williams 10, Pogoy 9, Rosario 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, R. De Ocampo 4, Rosales 4, Carey 4, Reyes 4, Seigle 2, Sumalinog 0.
Quarter scores: 18-19, 44-32, 76-58, 97-86.