PBA Finals: TNT vs SMB

MANILA – My wife Jasmin and I are here to attend the graduation of our daughter Jana. She “graduated” in 2020 but their ceremony then was only virtual. Good move by Ateneo to request the graduates from the past two years to return to Loyola Heights and join Class 2022 in a physical “paso” this weekend.

We arrived last Friday and decided to stay near the SM Mall of Asia. After touring the world’s largest IKEA store, we descended the escalator and were greeted by another gargantuan structure: the MOA Arena.

It was the PBA Finals, Game 3!

While Jana was off to ADMU visiting her former professors, Jasmin and I decided to watch the San Miguel Beermen versus TNT Tropang Giga.

We arrived at halftime and took our Lower Box seats (priced reasonably at P450/ticket). The stadium was 70 percent full but 100 percent for San Miguel. Ha-ha. Of course, there were TNT fans but they were outnumbered by the roaring voices of the fanatical Beermen. 

The SMB congregation wore red, screamed “SEE-JAY!” for CJ Perez, booed when RR Pogoy’s jumpshot misfired; they banged the inflatable clappers, and carried placards that read, FEAR THE BEER.

The Talk ‘N Text faithful? Despite the appearance of team owner Manny V. Pangilinan and the loud pounding of their drums — the Tropa troops were subdued.

(In between the game’s highlights, I was messaging a former SMB hotshot, Cebu’s top-notch Councilor, Dondon Hontiveros.)

The entire second half was close. SMB led by two points and this was quickly erased by a Jayson Castro jumper. Poy Erram would score a driving layup and, seconds later, Jericho Cruz equalized with a 22-footer.

When the 4th quarter started, TNT led, 76-74. This hard-fought battle ensued all the way until the dying minutes. When the clock stopped with 11.7 seconds to go, San Miguel was up, 94-93. They were poised to claim victory. But TNT held ball possession. Would you believe.. the Beermen were called for a delaying-the-game violation.. Twice! A technical violation ensued resulting to a “free” free throw which RR Pogoy calmly sank. Game tied, 94-all. 

Would Game 3 be a repeat of Game 1 when the spitfire Jayson Castro sank the buzzer beater? 

Yes, Castro dribbled, pivoted left, faked right, attacked the rim and attempted a hurried shot.. it left his hands, traveled the Manila air for a millisecond… but, no, it missed.


(An hour before that miss, when we arrived and missed the entire first half, my wife Jasmin jokingly predicted, “I don’t care who wins.. as long as the game extends to overtime.)

In OT, Robbie Herndon of SMB scored and scored and made the 5-minute extension a no-contest. When the buzzer sounded, it was 108-100, the winner was the winningest team in PBA history.

The night’s biggest star? The big man from Pinamungajan who led all scorers with 27 points. Here’s more: He grabbed a whopping 27 rebounds. We’re proud to call him Cebuano.. June Mar Fajardo.