Robbie Herndon scored five successive points to start overtime including a three that enabled San Miguel to take a 99-94 lead, a gap that proved to be enough to give the Beermen the upper hand in the best-of-seven championship series. (Photo credits: Spin PH/Jerome Ascano)
By Cip D.C. Cabrera
PASAY CITY, Metro Manila — So much has changed in the San Miguel Beer’s game style although its goal of winning a championship remains the same—and behind this new generation of Beermen, Robbie Herndon is ready to go to battle.
Seldom-used, Herndon became the unexpected hero as SMB overcame defending champions Talk ‘n’ Text (TNT) Tropang Giga in overtime, 108-100, to grab a 2-1 lead in the 2022 Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)’s Philippine Cup Finals on Friday night at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.
Traded to the SMB franchise for the team’s 2023 and 2024 second-round draft picks, the former Converge FiberXer drilled in five successive points to start overtime, including a three that enabled the Beermen to take a 99-94 lead. That edge proved just enough to wrap Game 3 up in their favor in their best-of-seven championship battle with TNT.
Herndon was inserted in the game only after star player Christian Jaymar ‘CJ’ Perez fouled out at the final canto with 3:15 remaining but he redeemed himself in the extra period after a mental mistake in regulation saw him commit a delay of game technical with San Miguel up a point with 11.7 seconds left.
Following the technical foul, Tropang Giga’s spitfirish shooting guard Roger Pogoy scored a technical free throw to tie the game, erasing a San Miguel lead just shortly after Herndon drained his first field goal of the match on a three-pointer for a 94-90 lead.
This is Herndon’s first game after he missed SMB’s last three matches but he made up for the error in a huge way in overtime to finish with crucial markers that complimented teammate June Mar Fajardo’s double-double of 27 points and 27 rebounds to set the tone for the Beermen who now aim for a comfortable 3-1 series lead on Sunday in Game Four scheduled at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Tropang Giga lost for the second straight time without the mentorship of its veteran head coach Vincent ‘Chot’ Reyes who is leading Gilas Pilipinas in the national team’s campaign for a comeback in this year’s Fédération Internationale de Basket-ball Amateur (FIBA) World Cup Asia qualifiers.
Actually, TNT missed a chance to take the win in regulation but their star point guard Jayson Castro botched in his final attempt.
“I’m so happy . . . dahil gusto nilang manalo,” SMB coach Leo Austria enthused following his wards’ victory over Tropang Giga.
“I would like to congratulate not only June Mar, that’s given na, but Robbie Herndon for being patient. Nagkaroon ng opportunity and he was the big revelation for the team,” he added.
San Miguel (108)
Fajardo 27, Cruz 18, Lassiter 13, Manuel 12, Perez 11, Ross 8, Herndon 8, Tautuaa 6, Brondial 5, Enciso 0.
Talk ‘n’ Text (100)
Pogoy 25, M. Williams 17, Castro 17, Erram 11, Khobuntin 11, K. Williams 10, Rosario 4, Reyes 3, Marcelo 2, Cruz 0, Montalbo 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.
27-19; 49-46; 74-76; 94-94; 108-100.