San Miguel conquers TNT anew to reach semifinals

San Miguel Beer went to the foul line four times in the final stretch to hammer out a 106-102 win over TNT KaTropa and advance to the 2018 PBA Commissioner's Cup semifinals on Wednesday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After Jayson Castro tied the count at 98-all with a three-pointer with two minutes remaining, San Miguel Beer import Renaldo Balkman munched four free throws before June Mar Fajardo and Chris Ross also made two each to score the victory.

The Beermen arranged a best-of-five semifinal clash with Alaska.

Renaldo Balkman led the Beermen's balanced attack with 25 points to go with eight rebounds and four assists.

Alex Cabagnot churned out 21 points, six rebounds, and the same number of assists, while Fajardo had a double-double effort of 19 markers and 12 boards.

Marcio Lassiter and Ross combined for 24 points.

"Our composure, experience, and willingness to win we're evident in the game. Those are the things that prevailed in the dying seconds," said SMB coach Leo Austria.

The KaTropa erased an eight-point deficit inside the final six minutes. Three-pointers from Terrence Romeo and Tony Semerad powered a mini 12-4 run that allowed them to tie the match, 98-all.

But they ran out of gas in the final two minutes. Hulking import Joshua Smith tried to will his team back but his final shot was short.

They scored four more after that but time just wasn't on their side.

Romeo, who uncorked a last-ditch layup with 3.9 ticks to go, finished with 28 points, three rebounds, eight assists, five steals, and a block. But his all-around effort went to waste.

Smith had 21 points and 18 rebounds. Semerad chipped in 19 points on five three-pointers.


San Miguel (106): Balkman 25, Cabagnot 21, Fajardo 19, Lassiter 13, Ross 11, Nabong 9, Santos 8, Ganuelas-Rosser 0, Heruela 0

TNT KaTropa (102): Romeo 28, Smith 21, Semerad 19, Rosario 11, Castro 7, Pogoy 6, Williams 6, Trollano 3, Taha 1, Carey 0, Reyes 0

Quarterscores: 27-32, 55-56, 80-77, 106-102


Alaska import Diamon Simpson will face San Miguel Beer, the team he beat in the championship the last time he was here.

Smith had a hard time getting touches. Though he made seven of 13 attempts from the field, he was bothered by June Mar Fajardo on his last shot with seconds remaining which could have changed the complexion of the game.