by Ernest Hernandez
San Miguel Beer import Charles Rhodes started game 1 of the 2017 PBA Commissioners Cup Finals like a house on fire, pouring in 21 points in the opening canto before fizzling out as the game went on.
The Beermen benefitted from the hot start, leading as much as 9 points in the first quarter. Rhodes failed to emulate his success, unable to make any shot in the second quarter which got compounded with the Beermen piling up turnovers.
TnT forced San Miguel to shoot only 40-percent from the field, outscoring SMB 32-20 in the second period. TnT held a five-point lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, Rhodes continued to go cold and got slapped with two fouls. SMB coach Leo Austria was forced to sit his import to preserve him for the payoff period and was once again held scoreless.
“I didn’t show up second and third quarter for my team. The loss is on me and I have to step up the next game,” said Rhodes on the game 1 loss.
Rhodes tried to pick up his scoring slack in the fourth period, unloading 10 points to help SMB claw back from a 10-point deficit.
That was until he was slapped his fifth foul which rendered him useless on the defensive end. Roger Pogoy spearheaded the TnT attack, hitting clutch baskets. In the end, it was the injured Joshua Smith who lifted KaTropa, sinking his familiar baby hook that went through the net with only 1.5 seconds left in the game.
“I feel that the loss is on me,” a devastated Rhodes said. “I probably lost if for my teammates and the fans. Should have stepped up more, found myself in foul trouble and I cannot find my rhythm no more. As those crazy fouls that I got, I couldn’t find my rhythm. I couldn’t score until the fourth quarter – I just had to do better.”
Rhodes finished the game with 31 points, 13 rebounds, 4 assists and a steal but also committed 6 turnovers. Foul trouble played a key part in preventing him from doing more.
Despite blaming himself, teammate Marcio Lassiter pointed out that Rhodes is not to be blamed but the team as a whole. He singled out how they were not able to do a good job protecting the ball.
“We got to do and correct our mistakes because I know we had 24 turnovers – cut that in half, you can turn the game away that easy. I don’t blame the shots, I blame the 24 turnovers and not being responsible for taking care of the ball.”
SMB and TnT meet again for game 2 of the PBA Commissioners Cup Finals tomorrow, June 23, at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
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