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MANILA, Philippines – The Tropang Texters was humbled for the third game in a row in their PBA 2015 Philippine Cup semis series with the San Miguel Beermen. By all intents and purposes, things don’t look promising for coach Jong Uichico’s wards, and it stands to reason that they will probably get swept in Game 4.
Once again, SMB had a tough time disposing of TNT in Game 3, but the Beermen still made the big plays in the endgame to get the job done and put themselves just a game away from the Philippine Cup Finals. They have a prime chance to sweep the Texters and get some much-needed rest before plunging into the championship series.
On the other end, the Texters came oh so close in Game 3, only to be plagued by the very same thing that cost them dearly in Game 2, and it’s not the officiating.
Spider-man strikes again
Arwind Santos waxed hot in Game 3 , pouring in 23 points while hitting 5 triples to lead the Beermen past the Texters. Santos didn’t do much on defense and struggled through foul trouble, but he more than made up with being very efficient on offense.
Stats before Game 3: 15.2ppg, 7.5rpg, 2.0apg, 1.5bpg, 1.8 triples per game, 43.6 FG%.
Game 3: 23pts, 3rebs, 1ast, 1stl, 5 triples, 9/14 FGs.
In contrast to his Game 2 performance, Marcio Lassiter poured the heat in Game 3, scoring from practically anywhere and contributing in other areas as well. He was the best wingman in this game, effectively outplaying TNT wingmen Ryan Reyes, Larry Fonacier, and Matt Rosser.
Stats before Game 3: 10.7ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.0apg, 1.8 triples per game, 32.7 FG%.
Game 3: 17pts, 6rebs, 2asts, 1stl, 3 triples, 6/12 FGs.
SMB also got a huge lift off the bench from Rico Maierhofer, who scored in double-figures for the first time this season. Maierhofer came up big mainly in the second half, giving SMB a spark that enabled the Beermen to keep their heads above water.
Stats before Game 3: 2.0ppg, 4.2rpg, 46.2 FG%
Game 3: 10pts, 5rebs, 1ast, 5/5 FGs.
Can’t crack The Kraken
June Mar Fajardo bounced back after shooting badly from the field in Game 2. The reigning MVP did well in this game, making more than two-thirds of his attempts. – He was also solid in the rebounding department, which made up for his 5 turnovers.
Game 2 stats: 15pts, 12rebs, 3asts, 2/11 Fgs, 11/11 FTs
Game 3 stats: 18pts, 9rebs, 2asts, 8/12 FGs, 2/4 FTs
Drunk with turnovers
One red flag for the Beermen in Game 3, however, was their propensity to turn the ball over. SMB gave up 16 TOs in Game 3, which led to 19 points off TOs for TNT. That’s definitely something they cannot afford to do again in Game 4.
Games 1 & 2: 14.5 turnovers per game
Game 3: 16 turnovers (5 from Fajardo and 3 from Lutz)
On the other end, TNT drew a lot of production from Gilas forward Ranidel De Ocampo, who bounced back from a pedestrian Game 2 performance. RDO was on Ranidirk mode in Game 3, hitting six triples on his way to a team-high 21 points.
Game 2: 10pts, 6rebs, 1ast, 0/3 triples, 5/10 FGs.
Game 3: 21pts, 6rebs, 5asts, 1stl, 6 triples, 7/14 FGs.
Free throw frustration
Much like in Game 2, TNT struggled from the free throw line again. As if shooting 50% in Game 2 wasn’t bad enough, the Texters shot even worse in Game 3, making less than half of their charity shots. In a game decided by a single point, those missed FTs were huge.
First 14 Games: 72.8% FT shooting (#1 in the league)
Game 1: 32/47 FTs – 68%
Game 2: 12/24 FTs – 50%
Game 3: 12/26 FTs – 46%
Hot early, cold late
The Texters looked good in the first half, making 11 triples, including back-to-back threes by Larry Fonacier and Jayson Castro to end the first half and give their club a good lead heading into the third period. It was a different story in the second half, though, as the law of averages caught up with TNT and they started missing more threes.
1st half: 11/24 threes – 45.8%
2nd half: 4/14 threes – 28.6%
Small guy, big lift
Despite the loss, it was great seeing Jimmy Alapag start and contribute for TNT. The Captain has played sparingly so far this season and he hasn’t been his old, fiery self, but he came to play in Game 3, draining a few trifectas to help TNT’s cause. If the Texters want to avoid a sweep, then they’ll need Jimmy to raise his game even more.
1st 2 semis games: 3.5ppg, 2.0apg, 1.0 triples per game
Game 3: 11pts, 5asts, 3 triples
Game 4 key match-up: Arwind vs RDO
Given how well both forwards played in Game 3, it only stands to reason they will comprise our key match-up for Game 4. RDO and Arwind are arguably the two best stretch forwards in the league, and they should have another memorable shooting display in Game 4.
SMB will need Arwind to continue playing well for them to have a strong shot of sweeping this series, while TNT will need RDO to be at his best again if they want to avoid being just the seventh team to get swept in a best-of-7 in the PBA. For the record, TNT has never been swept in a best-of-7 format.
Arwind stats: 15.8ppg, 7.1rpg, 1.9apg, 1.4bpg, 2.1 triples per game, 39.7 3pt%, 45.3 FG%.
RDO stats:12.9ppg, 4.7rpg, 2.3apg, 1.7 triples per game, 36.6 3pt%, 43.6 FG%.
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