• KaTropa, Beermen clash in crucial Game 5

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    With the series now reduced to a best-of-three affair, expect San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa to go all out in Game 5 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    The Beermen and the KaTropa collide at 7 p.m. with the winner taking a 3-2 advantage and moving closer toward a mid-season conference crown.

    TNT bounced back to tie the series with a 102-97 squeaker in Game 4 behind the much-improved performance of import Joshua Smith, who tallied 20 points and 15 rebounds.

    Joshua Smith of TNT KaTropa defends against June Mar Fajardo of San Miguel Beer in Game 4 of the best-of-seven finals of the Philippine Basketball Association Commissioner’s Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday. PBA MEDIA BUREAU PHOTO

    “What can we expect from a team like San Miguel Beer? I’m sure they will play better and stronger in Game 5 that’s why we really need to study the game again,” said KaTropa head coach Nash Racela.

    “Game 5 is going to be a war and we’re expecting them not to back down. We have to be ready and play better also,” he added.

    Smith rebounded from his terrible performances in Games 2 and 3 with the help of locals particularly rookie Roger Pogoy, who netted 14 markers after going blank in the previous two games.

    Veteran guard Jayson Castro had 10 of his 17 points in the payoff period including an acrobatic lay-up that gave KaTropa a big lift. Ranidel de Ocampo (13 points), Troy Rosario (13) and RR Garcia (10) also hit double figures in scoring as TNT displayed a balanced attack in Game 4.

    Beermen head coach Leo Austria admitted KaTropa came out prepared in Game 4 and they need to make the necessary adjustments to have a better chance of reclaiming the series lead.

    “We have to find solution to our early foul troubles. They came out very aggressive in Game 4. We have to execute very well in Game 5,” said Austria, who drew 22 points and eight rebounds from Best Import winner Charles Rhodes.

    “We have to step up and keep our intensity in Game 5. It’s a best-of-three series now. We have to prepare hard,” he added.

    Best Player of the Conference Chris Ross was limited to only eight points, five rebounds and four assists in Game 4.

    Rhodes and three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo were slowed down by foul issues in Game 4.

    Fajardo, who finished with 13 points and nine rebounds, fouled out in the middle of fourth quarter, while Rhodes was thrown out of the match after incurring two technical fouls late in the game.

    TNT won Game 1 (104-102) then San Miguel took Game 2 (102-88) and Game 3 (109-97).

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