Terrence Jones posted 37 points, 18 rebounds and nine assists and four others scored double digits as the TNT KaTropa held off the San Miguel Beermen 115-105 in Game 3 of the Commissioner's Cup finals Friday.
TNT takes a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Game 4 is Sunday, August 11 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Chris McCullough paced the Beermen to an early 33-18 lead after the first period, but TNT tightened on defense and went on a massive 24-0 run. Jones scored 16 points during that tremendous 12-minute stretch.
Jones continued his assault alongside Troy Rosario as the two combined for 21 of the team's 31 third-quarter points. San Miguel managed to keep it close and pulled to within 88-85 early in the fourth quarter
TNT used a 12-0 run fueled by 3-pointers from RR Pogoy and Don Trollano to build a 100-85 cushion to put San Miguel away. Pogoy scored 12 of his 29 points in the final period.
Don Trollano also recorded a career-high 18 points for TNT.
"I guess we just played better tonight compared to our last game. San Miguel also played well, but we just got a bit luckier. Our defense was there, and of course Don (Trollano) stepped up, the locals stepped up. I hope we can carry over this energy into the next game," coach Bong Ravena said.
Things didn't look good early on for TNT, who admitted that it needed to stay patient against a physical SMB side. The team had difficulty sticking to that in the first quarter as Jones, who was ejected late in regulation in Game 2, was slapped with a flagrant 1 for headbutting Chris Ross during a dead ball situation.
"We told him to stay focused, be patient, don't lose your head," Ravena said.
By staying grounded, TNT was able to shut down San Miguel as the Beermen missed 13 consecutive shots during that tide-turning second quarter KaTropa run. SMB also shot just 8-for-26 from long distance after burying 18 last Wednesday.
"The start of the game was a bit emotional, and we had to stay in the game. We needed to focus," Ravena said. "We just played our game, played harder. There weren't any other adjustments."
June Mar Fajardo had his best performance of the series with 27 points and 13 rebounds, while McCullough added 25 points and 13 boards in the loss. Chris Ross and Alex Cabagnot struggled and combined for just eight points after teaming for 44 in Game 2.
TNT 115 - Jones 37, Pogoy 29, Trollano 18, Castro 14, Rosario 13, Heruela 4, Washington 0, Golla 0, Taha 0, Carey 0, D. Semerad 0, Casino 0, Magat 0.
San Miguel 105 - McCullough 27, Fajardo 27, Romeo 13, Pessumal 12, Santos 10, Standhardinger 8, Ross 5, Cabagnot 3, Rosser 0.
Quarters: 18-33, 55-50, 86-78, 115-105.
The 24-0 blast by TNT is the second longest unanswered run in finals history and the longest in 28 years since Ginebra exploded for 31 straight in Game 5 of the 1991 First Conference series vs. Shell, according to PBA statistician Fidel Mangonon III.
Ravena said that Ryan Reyes is questionable for the rest of the series as the guard continues to deal with a calf injury.