• KaTropa down Kings, meet Beermen in finals

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    Jayson Castro displayed another vintage performance and led TNT KaTropa to a 122-109 victory over Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in Game 4 of their best-of-five semifinals series in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup on Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City.

    KaTropa won the series, 3-1, and will meet San Miguel Beer in the best-of-seven championship showdown, which begins on Wednesday at the Big Dome.

    With Joshua Smith hobbling because of a foot injury, Castro took charge in the fourth period and denied the Gin Kings of another miracle finish as TNT secured its 17th finals appearance and sixth in the Commissioner’s Cup.

    Talk N Text’s Kelly Williams dunks the ball over Justin Browlee of Ginebra during Game 4 of the best-of-five semifinals of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup on Saturday at the Cuneta Astrodome in Pasay City. PHOTO BY BOB DUNGO JR.

    Castro finished with an all-around game of 38 points, 11 assists and seven rebounds and anchored a telling 19-1 assault late in the payoff period to break away from a tight contest.

    “In the last three games, their (Ginebra) defense was tight against me. So, going into the game, my mindset is to be more aggressive and take every shot with confidence,” said Castro, who shot 13-of-21 overall from the field including 5-of-8 from the rainbow territory.

    Smith still finished with 18 points and five rebounds but his finals stint is in doubt as the team brought in standby import Mike Myers in case the burly import is not fit to face the Beermen in the finals.

    RR Garcia added 16 points, Kelly Williams chipped in 14 while rookie RR Pogoy contributed 13 markers for head coach Nash Racela, who just booked his first PBA finals stint.

    “As long as we do the right things, good things will happen. Our import Joshua Smith is hurting but he sacrificed a lot. He played despite playing hurt,” said Racela.

    LA Tenorio’s triple gave Ginebra its last taste of the lead, 106-103 with 7:39 remaining when Castro anchored a decisive 19-1 exchange to take a 122-107 advantage with 1:49 left in the game.

    The top seed Gin Kings never recovered from that blow to bow out of the tournament.

    Japeth Aguilar led Ginebra with 31 points while import Justin Brownlee added 25 markers. Tenorio netted 20 for head coach Tim Cone.

    Scores:
    TNT 122—Castro 38, Smith 18, Garcia 16, Williams 14, Pogoy 13, De Ocampo 9, Semerad 5, Tautuaa 4, Reyes 3, Rosales 2, Rosario 0.

    GINEBRA 109—Aguilar 31, Brown­lee 25, Tenorio 20, Devance 14, Thompson 10, Ellis 6, Marcelo 2, Mercado 1, Ferrer 0.

    Quarter Scores: 29-35, 66-63, 95-92, 122-109.

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