TNT 104 – San Miguel 102, TNT leads the series 1-0
Joshua Smith admitted that the final play of TNT Ka-Tropa against the San Miguel Beermen in game one of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals wasn’t for him.
“It was for Jayson. He wasn’t open,” he explained. “I caught the ball, I was looking for somebody to pass it to.”
Smith’s hook shot with 1.6 seconds left on the clock wasn’t by design, and yet, it wasn’t coincidence either. Smith’s game-winner that catapulted TNT past the Beermen was a product of good old-fashioned grit, determination, and a whole lot of heart.
TNT’s Hulk-like import was hampered with a right foot injury for the entire game. He even aggravated it in the latter part of the third period, when he was forced to head back into the locker room.
“I just kept telling myself – 12 minutes. My thing is, as much as it is easy for me to pack up my stuff and leave, I wanna keep playing,” he thought in that critical juncture. “I came here with one goal and I’m so close so I gotta take it day by day.”
The young center out of Seattle, Washington, didn’t want to go down without a fight. And so, he willed himself back into the game in the fourth period and played a huge role on both ends of the court against the Beermen’s June Mar Fajardo. Smith ended up with 21 points and nine rebounds in 26 minutes of action.
And he proved to be the hero of the game, injured foot and all, for the TNT faithful. Even though the last play wasn’t set up for him, he saw the opportunity to go for the win. The Beermen were all over Jayson Castro, denying the star point guard, and didn’t even allow him to touch the ball. In the end, it all worked out as Smith took it upon himself to carry his team.
“Once there was nobody else I just decided to it myself,” he shared about his game-winner. “My foot’s hurting but it feels better when you win. So that’s all really that matters.”
“They’re a good team. It came down to the last shot. This first game is indicative of the whole series. It’s going to be tough games. It’s gonna be whoever team that crawls it out, grinds it out, I’m glad we’re the first team to get the first win so we’re three steps closer,” he added about facing the daunting SMB team.
But for now, TNT leads the Finals series 1-0 thanks to Smith and his herculean effort. In the end, maybe in fact, it was all by design, not the final play, but the manner in which TNT won – the injury, rising above adversity, and capping it all off with a game-winning play.