Defending champion San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa will collide in the critical Game 5 of the best-of-seven semifinal series of Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup today at the Araneta Coliseum.
With the series now tied at 2-2, the Beermen and the KaTropa are expected to go all out in their 7 p.m. encounter.
San Miguel tied the series with an emphatic 97-86 win over TNT KaTropa in Game 4 behind the career game-high output of Chris Ross.
Ross notched a personal best of 31 points, five rebounds and five assists to snap KaTropa’s two-game winning run in the series.
Beermen head coach Leo Austria said they need to be consistent on both ends of the court in order to have a better chance of winning Game 5.
“This is a game of adjustments. We have to remain consistent of what we do and we have to exert all our effort in the next game (Game 5),” said Austria.
Three-time reigning MVP June Mar Fajardo has yet to deliver his usual numbers for the Beermen in the series, thanks to TNT’s solid team defense on the 6-foot-10 slotman.
But Austria is satisfied with the way Fajardo has been playing, finding his teammates and playing the solid defense inside the shaded lane.
“June Mar remains to be our main man. But the good thing with June Mar is he’s learning. I told him I don’t need you to score a lot as long as you’re helping your teammates to be open. I’m glad that it is happening,” Austria added.
Fajardo had 15 points and 15 rebounds in Game 4.
“I’m very much willing to focus on my defense and give my other teammates the opportunity to score,” said Fajardo in Filipino. “We know they are going to come back so we have to be ready.”
Meanwhile, KaTropa head coach Nash Racela criticized the game officials for giving the Beermen the “special treatment” in Game 4.
“They got what they (San Miguel) wanted. They were demanding some treatment from the referees the last game. If they heard what [Chris] Ross and Marcio [Lassiter] said, they go it today (Game 4),” said Racela.
“Just because they are pthe defending champion and they have the MVP (Fajardo), all of a sudden they are expecting special treatment when they enter the court. Me, I don’t buy that as a coach. If you lose by getting the right calls, I accept. But demanding for some special treatment? That’s wrong,” he added.
TNT got the momentum of the series after winning Game 2 (87-85) and Game 3 (98-92) but faltered in the next game as Ross waxed hot and torched the KaTropa’s defense.