Jayson Castro took matters into his own hands and carried TNT to a 102-97 victory to equalize the 2017 PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals series to two games apiece Wednesday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The speedy Kapampangan playmaker scored 10 of his 17 points in the fourth quarter and got four rebounds, as he spurred the huge fourth quarter rally from a 78-73, capped off by an amazing reverse layup with 1:39 to spare to steer the KaTropa to the huge Game 4 win.
“It was a hard-fought ballgame. Both teams gave their best today and it’s nice that we ended up with the win,” said coach Nash Racela. “All we did, really, was just to tie the series.”
Seemingly inspired by his laboring wife Kristy in the United States, hulking TNT import Joshua Smith frustrated the Beermen frontline and racked 20 markers, 15 boards, and two dimes as he imposed his presence in the paint.
Roger Pogoy also recaptured his shooting touch and fired 14 points on a 6-of-9 sniping from the field, on top of three rebounds to bounce back from his two scoreless outings.
Ranidel de Ocampo chipped in 13 markers, five rebounds, and three dimes while Troy Rosario had his best outing in the championship series with 13 points, three boards, and three assists.
Game 5 is on Friday, still at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Racela said that the TNT players were motivated seeing Chris Ross and Charles Rhodes bag the individual plums earlier in the night.
“After they got their awards, I huddled the team and just told them, ‘Let them get all the individual awards and let’s get the team awards.’ For us that’s the more important thing,” he said.
Winning the Best Import award earlier, Rhodes did not go home happy as he hit the showers early after getting ejected with 1:08 left in the fourth period. He led San Miguel with 22 points and eight rebounds.
Alex Cabagnot scored 18 markers, six boards, and five assists, while Marcio Lassiter shot 1-of-8 from beyond the arc and chipped in 14 points and seven rebounds.
It was a night to forget for Ross, who earlier was feted with the Best Player of the Conference award, but was limited to just eight markers, five boards, four assists, and two steals.
Foul-riddled all game long, June Mar Fajardo also struggled in the tiff as he finished with 13 points and nine rebounds in the loss.
TNT 102 – Smith 20, Castro 17, Pogoy 14, Rosario 13, De Ocampo 13, Garcia 10, Tautuaa 6, Rosales 3, Reyes 3, Williams 2, Semerad 1, Carey 0.
SAN MIGUEL 97 – Rhodes 22, Cabagnot 18, Lassiter 14, Fajardo 13, Santos 12, Ross 8, De Ocampo 4, Tubid 3, Heruela 3, Espinas 0, Semerad 0, McCarthy 0, Van Opstal 0, Agovida 0.
Quarters: 27-24, 49-47, 73-76, 102-97.