SMB overcomes TNT’s 4th quarter rally to even up Finals series at two wins apiece

James hits dramatic buzzer-beating three as CSKA edge Zalgiris 85-82

The TNT Katropa took home the individual awards, but it was the San Miguel Beermen who got the last laugh in Game 4.

SMB brushed off TNT’s late fourth quarter rally to escape with a 106-101 win in Game 4 and tie their PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals best-of-seven series to two wins apiece.

Chris McCullough was hailed the best player of the game with 27 points and 22 boards, while Alex Cabagnot (25 points and five assists) and June Mar Fajardo (22 markers and 7 rebounds) also came up big on Sunday night. Von Pessumal took on the injured Marcio Lassiter’s place and delivered 14 points on 4-of-7 shooting from deep.

Terrence Jones willed the Katropa to erase a 15-point lead to begin the fourth and came within two points with 40 seconds left in regulation. But Fajardo responded quickly and connected on a short stab with 37 ticks left to seal the deal for the Beermen.

After watching Jones and Jayson Castro nab the BIC and BPC awards respectively prior to tip-off, SMB raced to a 31-22 lead in the first canto thanks to a fiery start from Cabagnot who had 13 quick points on 6-of-9 shooting. TNT opened the second on a blistering 7-0 run to get within two, but timely baskets from McCullough and Von Pessumal kept the Katropa at bay.

After a slow start in the first 12 minutes, the newly minted BIC came alive in the second frame and dissected San Miguel’s defense through an efficient inside-outside attack. Jones knotted the game at 45 after completing a steal and punching in a two-handed hammer at the 3:17 mark. He led TNT with 32 points, 16 rebounds, six assists, and six steals.

TNT finally took the lead with 1:56 left in the second, courtesy off a long bomb by RR Pogoy off a beautiful kick out by Castro. They held on a razor thin 52-51 lead after two quarters.

But the Beermen erupted in the third quarter, outscoring TNT 31-17. Fajardo feasted inside, while Pessumal got the job done from distance to create a sizeable cushion entering the fourth. SMB stretched the lead to 13 with 25 ticks left in the third, courtesy of a shot clock-beating trey by Cabagnot.

Things got a bit chippy at the halfway mark of the fourth as Arwind Santos and Jones were assessed with technical fouls. TNT kept it interesting and was within striking distance in the dying seconds, but Cabagnot lived up to his monicker and delivered four straight free clutch throws to preserve the W.

Troy Rosario had another solid outing for TNT, pitching in 24 points and eight boards in a losing effort. Castro and Trollano added 17 and 16 markers, respectively.

Game 5 is scheduled on Wednesday, August 14, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Scores:

San Miguel (106) — McCullough 27, Cabagnot 25, Fajardo 22, Pessumal 14, Ross 7, Standhardinger 5, Romeo 4, Santos 2.

TNT (101) — Jones 32, Rosario 24, Castro 17, Trollano 16, Pogoy 9, Heruela 3, Casino 0, Magat 0, Carey 0.

Quarterscores: 31-22, 51-52, 82-69, 106-101.

(Image from PBA Media Group)

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