Chot return sparks TNT past San Miguel

Chot Reyes’ return gave TNT Tropang Giga a massive boost as it booked a masterful 100-87 victory over San Miguel Beer in Game 4 of their Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup best-of-seven finals series late Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

With Reyes returning from guiding Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers in Beirut, the Tropang Giga had a near-flawless performance with an all-time record of only three turnovers en route to the impressive victory that tied the series at 2-2.

The last time a team had very few turnovers in the finals was in Game 7 of the 2008 Philippine Cup when Sta. Lucia committed only four during its 100-88 victory over Purefoods.

Jayson Castro shone brightest with 26 points on efficient 10-of-13 shooting, alongside six rebounds, four assists and three steals while Roger Pogoy added 21 markers and three boards and Mikey Williams and Kelly Williams combined for 29 markers.

“Well, Coach Chot said that turnovers were very key for us,” said assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga, speaking to reporters in lieu of Reyes, who is facing a very packed schedule as Gilas are set to clash with Saudi Arabia in the prestigious qualifiers on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena.

“We had a lot of turnovers before and that’s the number one on our list heading to this game. We’re quite happy with the way our players responded.”

“That’s not just one person, not just Jayson or Mikey, but everybody across the board.”

With Reyes returning after missing Games 2 and 3, the Tropang Giga were all fired up and limited San Miguel to only nine points in the opening quarter.

Williams and Castro combined for 23 points to erect a 43-36 lead, exposing the Beermen to their lowest first half output since the 2020 Philippine Cup.

San Miguel clawed its way back with Mo Tautuaa and Simon Enciso hitting back-to-back baskets before Fajardo gave the Beermen a taste of lead, 52-51, in the third.

Castro, Pogoy and Williams, however, spelled doom with an 11-5 attack punctuated by Kelly William’s triple to regain control, 96-78, and never looked back with 3:39 left to play.

The win spoiled Best Player of the Conference June Mar Fajardo’s coronation, who finished with 20 points and 19 rebounds on a losing effort.

TNT has the chance to claim a pivotal 3-2 lead when they battle San Miguel on Wednesday also at the Big Dome.

The Scores:

TNT (100) — Castro 26, Pogoy 21, M.Williams 15, K.Williams 14, Erram 8, Khobuntin 7, Montalbo 3, Rosario 2, Marcelo 2, Ganuelas-Rosser 2, Reyes 0, Alejandro 0.

SAN MIGUEL (87) — Fajardo 20, Enciso 15, Lassiter 14, Perez 13, Tautuaa 13, Cruz 6, Brondial 3, Ross 2, Manuel 1, Herndon 0, Pessumal 0.
QUARTERS: 18-9, 43-36, 72-63, 100-87.

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