Kelly Williams bested June Mar Fajardo in the pivotal minutes to carry the TNT KaTropa to a 101-94 win over reigning champion San Miguel Beer in Game 5 of the best-of-seven semifinals of the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup at the Araneta Coliseum on Thursday.
On top of seven rebounds and three steals, the power forward Williams notched eight of his 18 points in the fourth canto, including three crucial baskets that blasted through the defense of three-time Most Valuable Player Fajardo.
The KaTropa are now leading the series, 3-2, one game away from reaching their 17th overall finals appearance.
“I think they made their adjustments,” said TNT coach Nash Racela during the postgame interview. “Credit also to our coaches they gave us a lot of inputs. We made our counter adjustments, today it worked, hopefully, it works again next game.”
“It’s not really about personal duels,” said Racela, pertaining to Williams’ impressive game. “It’s really a team effort for us. It just tells us that we need one more game.”
Playmaker Jayson Castro scored 18 points, seven assists and four rebounds. Ranidel de Ocampo added 18 points; rookie Roger Pogoy had 11 points also for the KaTropa.
Arwind Santos led San Miguel Beer with 18 points while Fajardo finished with mere 13 points plus 15 rebounds and two blocks.
After trailing by eight points, 24-32, Pogoy scored nine points in the second quarter highlighting TNT’s 26-8 run resulting in a 50-40 cushion at the halftime break. The KaTropa maintained their composure for the rest of the second half en route to their win.
Meanwhile, San Miguel Corporation (SMC) Sports Director Alfrancis Chua of Barangay Ginebra expressed concern over the statement made by Racela about the game last Tuesday, Valentine’s Day.
“We at San Miguel express our concern about the comments of TNT coach Nash Racela about ‘special treatment.’ Our coach didn’t say anything [when we lost]. I hope he’d just coach, mind their own team and we’ll mind our own,” Chua, also Ginebra’s team governor, told the media during the halftime break.
“It’s not appropriate. When we lost two straight [games], I hope we say that. When we won, then there’s a special treatment,” he added.
After their 86-97 Game 4 loss to the Beermen, Racela told reporters that San Miguel Beer got a “special treatment” from the game officials.
Racela refused to comment over Chua’s statement.
TNT: 101 – Castro 18, Williams 18, De Ocampo 18, Pogoy 11, Reyes 9, Rosales 8, Fonacier 7, Seigle 4, Carey 2, Tautuaa 2, Rosario 2, Rosser 0, Golla 0, Sumalinog 0.
SAN MIGUEL: 94 – Santos 18, Cabagnot 17, Lassiter 16, Ross 15, Fajardo 13, Espinas 9, Reyes 4, Garcia 2, Agovida 0, Tubid 0.
Quarter scores: 24-32, 50-40, 73-69, 101-94.