Oct 14, 2021

Tropa eye close-out, return trip to all-Filipino finals

TNT coach Chot Reyes sees himself as a broken record as he's been repeating again and again - even now - that the only way for them to contend with San Miguel Beer is to outwork them.

He insists they have a tough task of needing to exceed the amount of effort that the loaded Beermen put in the game to have a chance at beating them.

At 3-2, that remains the goal for the TNT Tropang Giga as they try to complete an upset of the Beermen, taking their first of two cracks at wrapping up the best-of-seven series Friday at the Don Honorio Ventura State U Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Tropang Giga go for the first back-to-back wins in the series as they seek to finish the job to get a return trip to the PBA Philippine Cup finals versus the winner of the Magnolia-Meralco face-off.

The opening tip-off is at 3 p.m. with the Beermen, for their part, once again looking to strike back to keep alive their dream of regaining all-Filipino dominance after their reign was stopped by the Barangay Ginebra Kings in the Clark bubble last year.

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The Tropang Giga remain wary of the Beermen but at the same time carry the confidence that they can do the job for as long as they can surpass the intensity, effort and desire of June Mar Fajardo and his teammates.

"Alam natin sobrang lakas ng San Miguel, at sanay sila sa playoffs. Pero kahit malakas sila, alam namin may tsansa kami if we can make our shots at kung lagpasan namin ang effort nila," said TNT ace guard Jayson Castro.

It helped TNT a great deal that Kelly Williams played his first game in the series and Poy Erram bucked a broken cheekbone, giving the TNT coach a solid rotation that did outwork, outplay and outmaneuver the Beermen in a 110-90 romp Wednesday.

"Parang best-of-three so sobrang importante sa amin ito," said Castro.

In focus now is TNT's ability to close out a series.

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The Tropang Giga have a 3-0 mark when holding a 3-2 lead in a best-of-three series in the Philippine Cup under their current coach.

But Reyes would insist San Miguel is a tough cookie.

The Beermen's record speaks for itself. (SB)