San Miguel Beer shoots for the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup title with a win against TNT KaTropa in Game 6 tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen and the KaTropa clash at 6:30 p.m. with the former hoping to end the series and claim their 24th PBA crown – their first Commissioner’s Cup diadem since 2000.
San Miguel reclaimed the series lead with a 111-102 victory in Game 5 on Friday but head coach Leo Austria is not celebrating yet as he knows TNT has the capability to force a winner-take-all Game 7.
“We’re twice-to-beat now but it’s not over yet. It’s going to be a different ball game on Sunday. I’m very sure they will comeback,” said Austria. “They will make a lot of adjustments, so we have to anticipate those adjustments.”
San Miguel import Charles Rhodes tallied 20 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks in Game 5, and more importantly stayed away from foul trouble.
Alex Cabagnot and Arwind Santos also delivered solid performances, scoring 28 and 27 points, respectively, to give San Miguel Beer the needed lift.
Chris Ross and June Mar Fajardo contributed 10 and nine markers, respectively, and they are expected to play a better offensive game as the Beermen try to finish off KaTropa in the series.
It looked that TNT would grab the 3-2 lead after a strong first half, 61-46, but its offense faltered in the third period. San Miguel Beer limited them to just 18 points while the Beermen exploded for 26 to erect an 82-79 cushion entering the payoff period.
Then Cabagnot and Santos took charge the rest of the way.
“Our target is to send this series to Game 7, so we have to study again,” said KaTropa head coach Racela, who drew a team-high 19 points from veteran forward Ranidel de Ocampo.
Jayson Castro had a quiet 12-point performance while top rookie Roger Pogoy, after scoring 14 points in Game 4, was held down to just two markers in Game 5.
TNT also committed 24 turnovers that the Beermen converted to 23 points. San Miguel had only 14 errors in Game 5.
TNT won Game 1 (104-102), while San Miguel Beer took Game 2 (102-88) and Game 3 (109-97). The KaTropa came back in Game 4 (102-97) to tie the series.