PBA Finals: TNT overthrows SMB, levels the series 2-2

MANILA, Philippines – Joshua Smith’s wife, Kristy, is about to give birth to their first child anytime today and this inspired “Jumbotron” to play harder that resulted to a gallant win against the Beermen, 102-97, on Wednesday, June 28, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. The PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals series is now tied at 2-2.

Joshua Smith punished June Mar Fajardo under the basket and sent the Kraken to bench
Joshua Smith punished June Mar Fajardo under the basket and sent the Kraken to bench with 6 fouls. Smith garnered 20 points and 15 rebounds. Photo Credit: pba.ph
Before the game 4 started, the individual awardees for this conference were declared. Charles Rhodes edged his finals import-rival Joshua Smith for the Best Import of the Conference award while Chris Ross topped the Best Point Guard in Asia, Jayson Castro and his colleagues Alex Cabagnot and June Mar Fajardo for the Best Player of the Conference plum.

With the game just barely started, TNT import Joshua Smith put himself into trouble by committing his 2 personal fouls both against June Mar Fajardo. Coach Nash Racela however, retained “Jumbotron” on the court despite his 2 personals.

Arwind Santos who has been playing a terrific basketball in the series continued his fair contribution as he led his squad with 4 points with 4 more minutes remaining in the 1st quarter. Moala Tautuaa on the other hand topped his team with 4 as well.

Marcio Lassiter who had gone cold in the last 2 games ignited in the latter part of the first while Roger Pogoy who went scoreless in games 2 and 3 made a three pointer and closed the opener with a slim 27-24 lead in favor of his team.

Pogoy waxed hot from the outside after he made his first one during the dying seconds of the first period. He added 2 more triples as the second started to increase their lead to 9. But the Beermen were too quick to react and brought the lead to their side for a 10-0 run under 5 minutes of the first half.

After SMB’s terrific scoring run, Charles Rhodes acquired his 3rd personal foul that forced him to be subbed out and spent the rest of the quarter on the bench.

Alex Cabagnot drained a long trey with 5 seconds remaining in the quarter clock. RR Garcia had the chance to make one more basket before heading to the locker room for the halftime break but Arwind Santos’ long arm was there to the rescue and blocked Garcia’s potential 3-pointer. 49-47 lead by TNT Katropa.

San Miguel turned the ball over multiple times at the start of the third due to traveling violations. Despite the misfortunes, SMB stayed closed with TNT with 5 dead locks at least and with over 7 minutes left in the third.

4 easy points were also given to San Miguel after Joshua Smith and Troy Rosario attempted to block Charles Rhodes and Arwind Santos’ shots but were unfortunately called for goaltending violations and handed the lead back to San Miguel, 60-58.

June Mar Fajardo and Charles Rhodes got into foul trouble where both big men got their 4th personal fouls that left Coach Leo Austria with no choice but to go small and slow with Yancy De Ocampo at middle and David Semirad at the wing position.

San Miguel sustained the lead after wrapping up the 3rd quarter, 76-73.

Prior to game proper, Joshua Smith was informed by his family in the US that his wife is about to give birth anytime today. As a sign of gratitude to the gentle giant, the entire TNT Katropa taped their jerseys with “Kristy” written on it to support the Smith family and to thank Joshua for staying in the country and play the finals with them.

Roger Pogoy began the final quarter with another three points that tied the game but Brian Heruela countered with his own three to regain the lead.

Commotion happened early in the fourth as Joshua Smith shoved Arwind Santos and hit the Beerman in the face after a rebound battle. Prior to the altercation, Santos clean blocked Smith and kept on hounding him. Both players were slapped with technical fouls by the referees.

June Mar Fajardo obtained his 5th foul midway of the final period. Yancy De Ocampo replaced June Mar and TNT capitalized on “The Kraken’s” absence and took the lead, 90-89. Jayson Castro added 3 more with a long bomb.

Joshua Smith fouled out June Mar Fajardo at the 2-minute warning of the game. TNT was up by 8, 99-91.

Charles Rhodes left the court with 1:08 left in the game after committing his 2nd technical foul for automatic ejection. Rhodes threw Ryan Reyes to the floor after their rebound battle.

SMB got disrupted after losing its big men and surrendered game number 4 to TNT as the final buzzer echoed in the entire arena.

Tie-breaking game 5 will be on Friday, June 30 at 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

-- Joey Boy Capos, The Summit Express

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