SMB: From pit to the brink
San Miguel Beer behemoth June Mar Fajardo in one of his post attacks in Game Five of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup

SMB: From pit to the brink

Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - August 15, 2019 - 12:00am

Beermen grab pivotal 3-2 lead on amazing rally

MANILA, Philippines — San Miguel Beer beat TNT KaTropa to the draw in posting the very first back-to-back triumphs in their tightly-fought title duel. And the Beermen now stand on the verge of winning the PBA Commissioner’s Cup crown.

Riding high from their 106-101 equalizer Sunday, the Beermen put up a fighting performance in pivotal Game 5, rallying from 16 points down to score a dramatic 99-94 follow-up and move one victory away from wrapping up the best-of-seven contest last night at the Smart Aranea Coliseum.

Chris McCullough turned in a dominant outing of 35 points, including 19 in SMB’s telling 30-14 fourth-quarter salvo, to go with 22 rebounds, four assists and three blocks, while Christian Standhardinger held TNT’s Terrence Jones to a solitary point in the last seven minutes to key the win.

“In situations like these, the players’ composure and experience always come in handy. As long as there’s minutes left to play, we know we can catch up and that’s what happened tonight,” said SMB coach Leo Austria whose team also dealt TNT its first successive setback of the tournament.

The KaTropa were dominating the Beermen all throughout, enjoying an 85-69 spread at the start of the fourth and maintaining a 90-77 cushion going to the last 6:19.

McCullough then took over, rattling 13 to spearhead SMB’s searing windup, including the go-ahead driving lay-up and the insurance freebies. 

Standhardinger did his part by hounding the tired Jones in the final push, forcing the Best Import to a crucial miss that led to McCullough’s defensive rebound and subsequent trip to the stripe that stretched their lead to 97-94, 13.3 ticks left.

Troy Rosario managed to launch a three-pointer but missed the mark and Chris Ross cleaned up the board, drew a foul and sank his charities for the final count.

“I think we had help from up high. It’s not easy to win this game especially being down by 16,” said Austria who can clinch it on Friday. “But I’m happy with the players for accepting their roles, especially Standhardinger, he’s my hero tonight.”

The scores: 

San Miguel 99 – McCullough 35, Romeo 22, Fajardo 16, Pessumal 9, Ross 7, Cabagnot 4, Standhardinger 4, Santos 2.

TNT 94 – Jones 35, Castro 18, Rosario 16, Pogoy 12, Trollano 7, D. Semerad 6, Taha 0, Reyes 0, Heruela 0, Magat 0.

Quarterscores: 22-28, 45-49, 69-80, 99-94

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