MANILA - (UPDATED) June Mar Fajardo converted a clutch shot with less than 30 seconds left, as San Miguel Beer hacked out a difficult 106-101 triumph over the TNT KaTropa in Game 4 of the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup on Sunday at the Araneta Coliseum.
In front of a crowd of nearly 14,000 fans at the Big Dome, the Beermen outplayed the KaTropa down the stretch to tie the best-of-7 Finals series at two games apiece.
Chris McCullough had a huge double-double with 27 points and 22 rebounds, while Fajardo finished with 25 points on 9-of-17 shooting, and Alex Cabagnot added 22 markers. San Miguel outscored TNT 31-17 in the pivotal third quarter, giving them a 12-point lead that they would nurse to the finish.
"I salute all the players," said San Miguel coach Leo Austria. "They are so focused in this game, they're able to follow our game plan. I hope this game will give us some momentum and confidence going to Game 5."
"We're lucky tonight, because in the end game, we're able to hold to our lead," he added.
After TNT seized a 52-51 advantage at the half, Fajardo came alive in the third period to help the Beermen take control. He scored 10 points in a 12-0 San Miguel run that turned a 64-65 deficit into a 76-65 lead. Three-pointers by Von Pessumal and Cabagnot sandwiched a Troy Rosario slam dunk that gave SMB an 82-69 advantage heading into the payoff period.
The KaTropa rallied in the fourth period, thanks to newly crowned Best Import Terrence Jones, who spearheaded a 12-4 spurt that made it a four-point game, 94-90, with still 3:49 to play in the game.
But the Beermen would have an answer. McCullough scored off his own miss to restore a six-point lead, then answered a Jones lay-up with a putback dunk that made it 98-92 with 1:42 to go.
A jumper and two free throws by Jones allowed the KaTropa to make it a one-possession game, 98-96, with 40.3 seconds left, but that was when Fajardo came up big for San Miguel.
McCullough passed out of a double-team to find Fajardo underneath the basket, and the "Kraken" evaded the defense of Troy Rosario to give his team a 100-96 lead with 27.7 seconds left. Alex Cabagnot and Chris Ross would then ice the game at the free throw line.
"June Mar was able to play comfortably inside, and that's what we need from him," said Austria. "The players understand what makes us a great team in the past few years. So everybody should be involved."
Pessumal added 14 points, as San Miguel shot 49.4% from the field and made 9 of their 22 three-pointers. They also had a 55-46 edge in rebounding, limiting TNT to 16 offensive rebounds.
Jones was not at his most efficient, as he scored 32 points on 12-of-31 shooting while missing 10 of his 16 free throw attempts. He added 16 rebounds, 6 assists, and 6 steals.
Jayson Castro, who was named Best Player of the Conference ahead of the game, had 17 points, 8 rebounds and 8 assists, but also committed a turnover with 20 seconds to go that forced TNT to send Cabagnot to the line.
Rosario had 24 points, and Don Trollano finished with 16 markers for TNT.
Game 5 is on Wednesday, still at the Big Dome.
San Miguel 106 - McCullough 27, Cabagnot 25, Fajardo 22, Pessumal 14, Ross 7, Standhardinger 5, Romeo 4, Santos 2.
TNT 101 - Jones 32, Rosario 24, Castro 17, Trollano 16, Pogoy 9, Heruela 3, Casino 0, Magat 0, Carey 0.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.