Anthony Semerad stepped up as the unlikely hero for TNT KaTropa, burying four triples in the payoff period to help his team edge Barangay Ginebra San Miguel, 107-103, and claim a commanding 2-0 lead in the best-of-five Oppo PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals on Tuesday at Mall of Asia Arena.
Semerad finished with a total of 14 points, 12 of which came in the fourth quarter as his explosion helped KaTropa upend the Gin Kings who came out better prepared against TNT’s Joshua Smith.
The hulking import was limited to 16 points and 16 rebounds, but he scored a crucial putback down the stretch to ice the victory for KaTropa who are just a win away from clinching a spot in the championship round.
Ginebra held the upperhand for most of the game thanks to its efforts of containing Smith and Jayson Castro’s struggles.
As TNT trailed by five points, 98-93, with 5:43 left, Semerad, who was left open by Ginebra defenders all game long to collapse on Smith, suddenly waxed hot for the KaTropa.
The new TNT player, who was acquired in a trade with GlobalPort during the eliminations, fired three straight three-pointers, including a tough stepback attempt, to hand TNT a 102-100 lead with 3:58 left.
LA Tenorio gave back the edge to Ginebra after a triple, but Semerad came to the rescue once again as his booming three-point bomb put TNT back on the driver’s seat, 105-103, with 53 seconds left.
Ginebra then failed to convert on the other end. Castro tried to seal the game with a triple with 11 seconds left but he missed.
Fortunately for TNT, Smith was there to grab the offensive board and make the crucial putback to stave off Ginebra.
RR Pogoy added 14 markers, while Castro and Kelly Williams had 12 points apiece for TNT which can close out the series on Thursday.
Tenorio and Brownlee led the way for Ginebra with 22 points apiece.