PBA Finals: TNT draws first blood over SMB with Joshua Smith’s game winning hook

    MANILA, Philippines – TNT Katropa survived San Miguel Beermen (SMB)’s run and took the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals opener, 104-102, on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

    TNT draws first blood over SMB with Joshua Smith’s game winning hook
    Foot injury won’t bring a big man down. Joshua Smith finished with 21 points and a game winner. Photo Credit: pba.ph
    It was Roger Pogoy who officially opened the 2017 Commissioner’s Cup Finals with a clean steal and an easy 2-pointer while Charles Rhodes placed San Miguel Beermen on the scoreboard with his completed charities followed by Alex Cabagnot’s open layup.

    Coach Nash Racela opted not to start Joshua Smith and instead started Moala Tautuaa at the middle. Smith who’s nursing his hurting right foot suited up for tonight in contrast to early reports that he might miss the finals and TNT might use its back-up import Myke Myers.


    Moala Tautuaa did a good job in defending their basket against the much taller June Mar Fajardo. He gave Fajardo his first personal foul and blocked the gentle giant on the other end that totally pleased Coach Racela.

    Finally, mid of the first quarter, the much anticipated match-up between the teams’ heavyweight centers happened as Joshua Smith entered the floor. Coach Racela held Tautuaa up on the floor to aid Smith in double teaming Fajardo. But in just under a minute, Coach Leo Austria pulled out June Mar Fajardo to preserve his fouls and sent Yancy de Ocampo in to guard Joshua Smith and provide an outside threat.

    After the first 12 minutes of the opening period, the Beermen were up 31-24. Charles Rhodes topped all scorers with 21 early big points with couple of monstrous slams.

    Jayson Castro might had gone quiet in the opener but when the 2nd period came, he sped-up and got his team closer to SMB. Castro even pulled Fajardo’s 2nd personal foul. Coach Austria didn’t like TNT’s run so he called a quick time out to re-group his squad.

    Charles Rhodes felt exhausted after his 21-point first quarter performance and spent half of the second on the bench. He was sent back to match the scoring intensity of Katropa and to display a tough defense against them.

    At last, after trailing for one and a half quarters, TNT got the lead from SMB with Joshua Smith’s initiative. 48-40 with 4:05 to go in the first half.

    It looked that Charles Rhodes ran out of gas early in the game. He was scoreless in the entire 2nd quarter and his teammates didn’t step-up to maintain their lead while he was taking a breather. Joshua Smith turned the tides in favor of TNT and bagged 14 points as the 1st half ended 56-51.

    It was not only Joshua Smith who was beating San Miguel up, even the tri-guards of TNT: Castro, Garcia and Pogoy were inflicting significant damages to the Beermen. In contrary, the top Best Player of the Conference candidates Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross were both silent.

    Charles Rhodes had been scoreless for 18 minutes since he hit his 21st point. Worst, he picked up his 4th personal foul that left Coach Leo Austria no other options but to take him out for the rest of the third period at least.

    With 3 more remaining in the third, Joshua Smith hurt his foot again after jacking his position against June Mar Fajardo. Smith immediately went straight to the locker room so that the team medics can check on his condition and status.

    San Miguel took advantage of Joshua Smith’s advantage in the latter part of the third period. June Mar Fajardo initiated the attack to close the gap. Alex Cabagnot finished the quarter and SMB was just behind by 2 points, 75-73.

    Joshua Smith confirmed that his right foot is once again hurt after June Mar Fajardo accidentally stepped on it. Smith just re-taped his right foot and returned to the game and started the fourth and final period.

    After 2 quarters of being too quiet, Charles Rhodes finally came out of long hibernation and scored his basket after 24 full minutes. But he was sent back to bench again after that prompt appearance as he committed his 5th foul. Likewise, Yancy de Ocampo acquired his 5th foul and was also slapped with technical foul for continuous complaining.

    Roger Pogoy relentlessly fired from the outside to widen their margin and he even broke Ronald Tubid’s ankle after the latter tried to stop the TNT guard at the rainbow country. Pogoy already had 25 points with 7 more minutes remaining in the game clock.

    San Miguel made a decent scoring run that cut the lead to just 2. June Mar started the onslaught with a clean block on Joshua Smith. Alex Cabagnot drained a sharp trey and Charles Rhodes completed a fast break after a while.

    Alex Cabagnot sank a mid-range jumper to tie the game at 98-all with 2 minutes left in the ballgame.

    Under a minute remaining, out of nowhere, Jayson Castro pull-up a cold-blooded trey for the 102-99 lead. Charles Rhodes split his foul shots to cut the lead to 2 with 37.2 remaining.

    Chris Ross was fouled by Roger Pogoy in the shaded area that brought the SMB guard to the free throw line and made 2 for 2. Ross left TNT with 7 ticks and the game is tied at 102.

    Coach Nash Racela made a play designed for Joshua Smith in the middle where he was dominating June Mar Fajardo. The limping Joshua Smith created a tiny space between him and Fajardo that was enough for him to take the shot and incredibly pulled it off to win the game 104-102.

    Joshua Smith saved the TNT by his winning shot but it was Roger Pogoy who won the Best Player of the Game with 27 points.

    Game 2 will be held on Friday, June 23 at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.


    TNT 104 - Pogoy 27, Smith 21, Castro 14, Garcia 13, Rosario 10, Tautuaa 7, Semerad 5, Williams 5, Rosales 2, Golla 0, Carey 0, Nuyles 0

    SAN MIGUEL 102 - Rhodes 31, Fajardo 18, Cabagnot 16, Ross 11, Santos 11, Lassiter 8, De Ocampo 6, Espinas 1, Tubid 0

    Quarter Scores: 24-31, 56-51, 75-73, 104-102

    --Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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