Chris Ross said San Miguel Beer gave everything it could before falling short against TNT in the rubber match of their best-of-seven PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.
The Beermen’s bid for a sixth finals appearance in the last seven seasons of the league’s most important tournament was thwarted when the Tropang Giga dominated Game 7 with a 97-79 win Sunday, Oct. 17 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Ross took to social media to pay tribute to the way TNT prevailed, shortly after SMB’s campaign ended on a sour note.
“Respect to (TNT) Coach Chot (Reyes) and his guys! We left it all on the floor but it wasn’t good enough to beat a great team. Thank you for all the support!” Ross tweeted.
SMB is going home after a campaign that had high hopes with June Mar Fajardo and Terrence Romeo back from injury and CJ Perez joining the talented squad after being traded from Terrafirma in the offseason.
There were shaky moments during the eliminations, with SMB losing to Meralco on its opening assignment that also saw Romeo suffer a knee injury.
The Beermen won the next three games before action at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City was put to the halt due to rising COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila.
San Miguel’s first action in Bacolor ended with a shock overtime loss to Terrafirma, but came back to beat Barangay Ginebra and TNT to go 5-2.
A 2-2 windup to the eliminations, including a loss to Magnolia, forced SMB to go into the playoffs as the No. 4 seed following a 7-4 record and facing a young and hungry NorthPort squad in the best-of-three quarters.
Game 1 nearly ended with a loss as SMB escaped with a one-point win on Alex Cabagnot’s last-second jumper that came after NorthPort’s Robert Bolick knocked down a deep three to take the lead.
SMB swept NorthPort, setting up a semis date against TNT that was back-and-forth right from the onset.
The start of Game 7 was promising for SMB as four threes in the opening period resulted in a 23-15 lead at the end of the first quarter.
But the Beermen’s shooting suddenly went cold and had no answers to the Tropang Giga’s precise offensive plays that turned the contest around.
Some of SMB’s main players struggled, particularly the scoreless Marcio Lassiter and Mo Tautuaa, while Perez and Romeo sustained injuries during the match.
June Mar Fajardo’s 22 points and 16 rebounds were simply no match for TNT’s collective effort.