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Progress-or-survival setup as San Miguel Beermen, TNT KaTropa collide in Game Two

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San Miguel Beermen v TNT KaTropa
The San Miguel Beermen and TNT KaTropa face each other again for Game Two of their best-of-three PBA Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinal series today. -- ALVIN S. GO

WHEN the San Miguel Beermen and TNT KaTropa collide anew today for Game Two of their best-of-three Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals, their mission orders are clearly set out.

For the Beermen, it is to win and move on to the next round of the tournament while for the KaTropa it must be a victory at the end of the day to keep their Commissioner’s Cup bid alive.

Such setup was formed after San Miguel came from behind in Game One on Monday to pull the rug from under TNT, 121-110, and go up 1-0 and a step closer to a spot in the semifinals.

Down by as much as 23 points early in the third period, the Beermen collectively showed grit and determination in fighting their way back.

They eventually used a strong finishing kick to leave the KaTropa in their tracks en route to the come-from-behind victory.

Import Renaldo Balkman led the way for San Miguel with 36 points and 16 rebounds while June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter had 27 and 26 points, respectively.

While they are happy and confident over where they are right now following Game One, San Miguel coach Leo Austria is not leaving anything to chance and said they should make full use of the advantage they have now.

“For Game 2, their (KaTropa) backs are against the wall. They know if they lose it’s over for them. But they still have a chance and we know that TNT is a very competitive team and will come back stronger and better next time around,” Mr. Austria said.

He went on to say that it is important for them to have a good start for Game Two and not fall behind big early the way they did in the series opener, lest they find themselves making things harder for them.

For TNT import Joshua Smith, their situation only leaves them with a lone recourse — win.

“We just gotta go back tomorrow (Tuesday), have a good practice and get ready for Game Two, man. Win or go home,” said Mr. Smith, who had 17 points and eight rebounds before fouling out.

The burly import also said that he felt game officials were not sharp with their calls in Game One and that he hopes he would be allowed to play more and called for less “thin” calls.

“Refs gotta let me play, man,” he said.

Incidentally, TNT put Game One under protest immediately after its conclusion over perceived “questionable” calls but eventually decided not to pursue it officially.

Game Two of the San Miguel-TNT quarterfinals is set for 7 p.m. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. — Michael Angelo S. Murillo