Joshua Smith continued to hobble on one good foot and remained to be the big difference for TNT KaTropa.
The 330-pounder drove for a running baby hook in the final 1.6 seconds on Wednesday night and keyed a 104-102 decision by the Texters over highly favored San Miguel Beer for a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven series for the PBA Commissioner’s Cup at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Taking charge upon realizing that their final play off an inbounds was broken by the San Miguel defense, Smith put the ball on the floor and got a shot off June Mar Fajardo as the Texters belied all pre-series predictions and immediately took the upperhand in the series.
“I screwed up in the last play,” TNT coach Nash Racela said as he really called for Jason Castro to have the ball with the game on the line. “San Miguel did a good job covering Jason and Joshua just had the presence of mind to attack.
“They denied everyone [from receiving the inbounds, except Smith], and he really had no choice but to make the play,” Racela added.
Smith, who has torn ligaments in his right foot, is still day-to-day even if he made the game-winning shot, according to Racela.
But San Miguel counterpart Leo Austria is now firm in his belief that their “problem” will be back, at least for Game 2 slated Friday also at the Big Dome.
“Next time, we have to contain Smith, he’s the problem,” Austria, obviously dejected after coming out of the locker room, said. “It was hard preparing for this game because we didn’t know (until the last minute) who we will be playing against.
“For sure, Smith will be there in Game 2 for them,” he said.
Smith finished with 21 points with rookie RR Pogoy leading the Texters with a career-high 27, counting 13 in the final frame that helped keep the Beermen at bay.
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