San Miguel banks on McCullough, Fajardo to nip TNT in Game 4

Delfin Dioquino

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San Miguel banks on McCullough, Fajardo to nip TNT in Game 4
Staying composed in the endgame this time, the Beermen knot the best-of-seven series at 2-2

MANILA, Philippines – San Miguel pulled off several key plays in the closing stretch to eke out a 106-101 win over TNT and level the 2019 PBA Commissioner’s Cup finals at the Araneta Coliseum on Sunday, August 11.

The Beermen wasted a double-digit lead for the third straight game in the best-of-seven affair but managed to stay composed in the endgame to knot the series at 2-2.

Import Chris McCullough churned out a monster double-double of 27 points and 22 rebounds, while June Mar Fajardo put up 22 points, including the layup that gave San Miguel a 100-96 lead with 30 seconds left.

The KaTropa still had plenty of time to stage a comeback only to witness Jayson Castro turn the ball over in the ensuing possession as Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross went a perfect 6-of-6 with their foul shots to preserve the win.

Cabagnot finished with 25 points and 5 assists, Von Pessumal added 14 points and 5 rebounds, while Ross filled up the stats sheet with 7 points, 8 assists, 6 rebounds, and 2 steals for the Beermen.

The loss somehow dampened the celebratory mood for TNT, which swept the individual awards with Terrence Jones bagging the Best Import of the Conference honor and Castro copping the Best Player of the Conference plum. 

Jones had 32 points, 16 rebounds, 6 assists, 6 steals, and 2 blocks, while Castro had 17 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 steals in the loss that saw the KaTropa get outscored 17-31 in the pivotal 3rd quarter.

TNT held a 65-64 lead before allowing San Miguel to tally 12 unanswered points – with 10 straight coming from Fajardo – that paved the way for an 82-69 advantage heading into the final quarter. 

A Ross layup to start the payoff period made it a 15-point lead for the Beermen – their largest of the game – but the KaTropa slowly chiseled away at their deficit and inched within 2 points off Jones’ freebies, 96-98. 

However, Fajardo sank a short stab and Cabagnot iced his foul shots right after to keep TNT at bay.

Troy Rosario wound up with 24 points and 8 rebounds, Don Trollano had 16 points, while Roger Pogoy added 9 points and 2 steals for the KaTropa. 

Game 5 is on Wednesday, August 14, at the same venue. 

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, Carey 0, Casino 0, Magat 0.

Quarters: 31-22, 51-52, 82-69, 106-101

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Delfin Dioquino

Delfin Dioquino dreamt of being a PBA player, but he did not have the skills to make it. So he pursued the next best thing to being an athlete – to write about them. He took up journalism at the University of Santo Tomas and joined Rappler as soon as he graduated in 2017.