SMB vs. TNT fives, evenly matched
By Jesus A. Garcia Jr.
WE, ardent buffs of basketball tournaments, watched on TV last August 17 how the multi-titled and endeared San Miguel Beer (SMB) squad escaped a precarious semifinal match and eventually won the seventh and final game of their semis series with a convincing 100-89 score against its mortal foe, the Meralco Bolts, held at the Araneta Coliseum. Yes, after a three-year drought, SMB’s semifinal victory in this year’s PBA Philippine Cup season propelled it to enter the best-of-seven championship series against the defending titlist TNT Tropang Giga, the winner over Magnolia, 4-2, in the other semis series.
Yes, we also watched on TV how the San Miguel quintet of head coach Leo Austria lost the first game of the championship series last Sunday (August 21) via a buzzer-beating shot by TNT’s point-guard the veteran Jayson Castro with no time left. That was after TNT head coach Chot Reyes called a time-out 1.6 seconds left following a three-point play by SMB’s forward Vic Manuel to tie the score, 84-84, and many knew (I was one of them) an overtime play was in the offing. But it was not to be because under the tactical play engineered by veteran coach Reyes 1.6 seconds remaining, Castro successfully drained the winning shot to the delight of the TNT-pro crowd but a serious disappointment for the San Miguel fans. That was the toughest call by hardcourt officials, particularly by the three referees, I’ve seen in my life since PBA’s birth in 1975. SMB bench did not protest but humbly asked the PBA for a video review and explained why Castro’s shot should be counted. The PBA technical officials did a frame-by-frame slow motion review many times done in different angles produced by TV5 that telecasted the entire hostility, and concluded that the shot of Castro counted for 86-84 TNT’s victory. Since there no howls or catcalls from the spectators, it meant they agreed with the verdict.
We saw, too, the second hostility of the series held last Wednesday (August 24). Sans TNT head coach Reyes who enplaned to Beirut, Lebanon to steer our national team, “Gilas Pilipinas”, to face the nationals of Lebanon on August 26 for the FIBA Asia World Cup Asian Qualifiers tournament, the TNT five succumbed to the re-invigorated SMB, 109-100, to tie the series, 1-1. Although many felt before the game that SMB had the better edge this time with the absence of Reyes. The skirmish was very tense in the first two periods, 30-28, 61-61, and the SMB boys of coach Austria slowly but surely pulled away in the third quarter to take the lead, 89-80. They widened the gap up to 15 points 7:48 minutes left in the fourth and final part and never looked back to avenge their first match defeat. Unlike the first game that resulted in low-scoring match because of tight defense of both teams, the second encounter of both breached the century mark this time with SMB prevailing by nine points, 109-100.
I’m making this piece on Thursday (August 25) and by the time you read this piece, for sure there will be a fifth game on August 31. I will surely watch their remaining games.
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK: “If a man lies with a male as he lies with a woman, both of them have committed abomination. They shall surely be put to death. Their blood shall be upon them. LEVITICUS 20: 13
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