MANILA, Philippines (UPDATED) – Chris Ross exploded for a career-high 31 points and the San Miguel Beermen built a big enough lead to fend off TNT KaTropa, 97-86, to even the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals at 2-2 on Tuesday, February 14 at the Mall of Asia Arena.
The defending champions avoided a 3-1 deficit after losing back-to-back to TNT, which relied on its ample bench contribution to pull through.
Ross made 5 of his 11 triple attempts and also pulled down 5 rebounds and dished out 5 assists.
June Mar Fajardo posted 15 points and 15 rebounds plus 4 blocks, as Alex Cabagnot dropped 12 markers.
Marcio Lassiter had a double-double of 12 points and 10 assists on top of 6 rebounds, while Arwind Santos added 7 points and 8 rebounds. Gabby Espinas chipped in 10 markers.
San Miguel pulled away from a close game in the second quarter, outscoring TNT by 26-13 and eventually led by as much as 22 points. The KaTropa managed to slice the deficit to 9 in the payoff period but were not able to get over the hump.
Larry Fonacier came off the bench for a team-high 15 points as Jayson Castro had 13 markers and 5 assists. Mo Tautuaa registered 12 points and 6 rebounds as TNT's bench continued to dominate, 44-20.
The KaTropa struggled with outside shooting, going 6-of-28 from deep. But capitalized on their time at the free throw line with 19-of-24 makes. TNT, on the other hand, was 8-of-12.
Game 5 of this best-of-7 series is on Thursday, February 16.
SMB (97): Ross 31, Fajardo 15, Lassiter 12, Cabagnot 12, Espinas 10, Garcia 8, Santos 7, Tubid 2, Y. De Ocampo 0, Reyes 0, Heruela 0.
TNT (86): Fonacier 15, Castro 13, Tautuaa 12, Williams 10, Pogoy 9, Rosario 5, Ganuelas-Rosser 4, R. De Ocampo 4, Rosales 4, Carey 4, Reyes 4, Seigle 2, Sumalinog 0.
Quarter scores: 18-19, 44-32, 76-58, 97-86.