SMB blasts Castro-less TNT to reach Philippine Cup Finals
MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – The San Miguel Beermen's title defense remain alive as they overpowered the Jayson Castro-less TNT KaTropa, 96-83, in Game 7 to reach the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup Finals on Monday, February 20 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Castro sat out Game 7 due to a hamstring sprain and TNT trailed by double figures for a huge chunk of the contest with San Miguel's starters ably carrying the team.
San Miguel, the two-time reigning all-Filipino titlist, will face the winner between Ginebra and Star in the other series which will play a Game 7 on Tuesday.
June Mar Fajardo and Arwind Santos conspired for 44 points with Fajardo adding 19 rebounds and 4 blocks. Santos also chipped in 13 boards as he went 7-of-13 from the field.
Chris Ross had a double-double performance of 18 points and 10 assists, but also accumulated 7 turnovers. Alex Cabagnot contributed 14 points with 7 assists while Marcio Lassiter registered 12 markers, 6 boards, and 4 dimes.
"I'd like to congratulate TNT and coach Nash Racela, he really brought everything out of us," said head coach Leo Austria in Filipino.
The Beermen outscored the KaTropa, 36-21, in the third to create separation. Without Castro facilitating play, TNT could not recover from a lead that went as high as 20.
Larry Fonacier topscored off the bench for TNT with 14 points as RR Pogoy added 13. Kelly Williams managed 11 points and 14 rebounds.
Austria, the two-time Coach of the Year awardee, has won 3 PBA titles in all 3 times he's led the Beermen to the finals in the past.
He now also holds the most Game 7 wins without a loss at 3, per PBA statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
SMB (96): Fajardo 22, Santos 22, Ross 18, Cabagnot 14, Lassiter 12, Espinas 8, Heruela 0, Garcia 0, Tubid 0, De Ocampo 0.
TNT (83): Fonacier 14, Pogoy 13, Williams 11, Rosser 9, De Ocampo 9, Reyes 7, Rosales 6, Tautuaa 5, Rosario 5, Seigle 4, Tamsi 0.
Quarter scores: 22-19, 41-39, 77-60, 96-83.