San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa gun for a 2-1 lead when they collide at 6:30 p.m. tonight in Game 3 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Commissioner’s Cup at the Araneta Coliseum.
The Beermen even the series at 1-1 with a 102-88 win over the KaTropa last Friday and SMB is expected to rely anew on Chris Ross and three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo to snatch the lead.
“We just let our game plan run and I hope we sustain this kind of performance in Game 3 because this series is a game of adjustment,” said SMB coach Leo Austria. “We have to find out where and when we will adjust. We have to keep guarding them, it’s like a chess game. I’m sure they will comeback stronger in Game 3, so we need to be ready.”
Import Charles Rhodes wasn’t much of a factor in their Game 2 win and it was local players Fajardo, Ross, Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot that delivered.
Rhodes finished with a measly seven points on 3-of-8 shooting from the field, 11 rebounds and four blocks after 18 minutes of play. He committed four fouls.
Fajardo had 22 points and 11 rebounds, Ross contributed 20 points and nine assists, Santos posted 16 points while Cabagnot notched 13 points in Game 2.
Although Joshua Smith’s output was limited to only 11 points, six rebounds and five assists in Game 2, Austria believes that they haven’t neutralized the burly TNT import yet.
“I think not. We are just going to prepare for what will happen next and we have to be consistent in playing defense against him,” added Austria.
TNT has a standby replacement for Smith – the 6’9 Mike Myers.
But TNT coach Nash Racela said they have no plan of replacing Smith. “ We lost not because of our import. We lost because of another thing,” he said.
“We have to learn how to keep our composure and focus. We have to learn how to take the punches. Well, this is the PBA, and the team that loses composure is normally the team that loses.”
Jayson Castro led TNT with 14 points in Game 2.
Rookie Roger Pogoy, who led TNT in Game 1 with 27 points, finished scoreless in Game 2.
Pogoy was slapped with a P30,000 fine for committing a flagrant when he hit SMB’s Arwind Santos in the groin, also in Game 2, last Friday.