Oct 17, 2021

Tropa humble Beermen, set championship face-off with Hotshots

TNT booked a return trip to the PBA Philippine Cup Finals and extended the drought of former all-Filipino five-peat champ San Miguel Beer with 97-79 romp in their do-or-die duel Sunday at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

RR Pogoy and Mikey Williams led the mighty TNT charge in the knockout setto, combining for 47 points as the pumped-up Tropang Giga humbled the Beermen and gained the right to play the Magnolia Hotshots in the best-of-seven finals.

For TNT coach Chot Reyes, it's about the players buying the idea to be excited and not to dread playing June Mar Fajardo and the Beermen in a deciding Game Seven.

"They bought it, and they came out with a great resolve. That's the most important thing that happened," said Reyes.

"We're fortunate to be back in the finals," added Reyes, hailing his chargers for the grit and guts shown to beat the mighty Beermen and foil their crack at a shot at the crown they held from 2014 to 2019.

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"We're motivated," said Pogoy, TNT's biggest hero in the decider with his 27-point game also laced with two rebounds and two assists.

"Sa five years ko sa PBA, lagi kaming talo sa San Miguel sa playoffs. So motivation ko na manalo namin kami," Pogoy added.

Things worked well for the Tropang Giga with Mikey Williams checking his slump to fire 20 markers, Kelly Williams helping build momentum in the first half and the frontline duo of Poy Erram and Troy Rosario coming through in the crunch.

Kelly Williams collected double-double numbers with 11 points and 10 rebounds right in the first two quarters while Erram and Rosario struck hard towards the end and finished with combined 21 points and 23 rebounds.

Jayson Castro hobbled for six markers, four boards and four dole-outs, and Ryan Reyes and Brian Heruela had their contributions as reliable substitutes as Tropang Giga reached the finals in their first tourney under their comebacking coach.

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Reyes shoots for his 10th PBA title and first since his last championship in 2012 before bringing his stuff over to Gilas Pilipinas.

San Miguel crumbled in the end, with the team looking like a spent force with key players - Moala Tautuaa and Terrence Romeo- getting hurt and unable to return in the second half.

CJ Perez also suffered an injury in the third and had limited movement in his brief return in the fourth.

Fajardo led the losing team with 22 points and 16 rebounds. (SB)

The scores:

TNT 97 - Pogoy 27, M. Williams 20, Rosario 12, K. Williams 11, Erram 9, Reyes 7, Castro 6, Heruela 3, Khobuntin 2, Exciminiano 0, Montalbo 0, Alejandro 0, Marcelo 0, Javier 0, Mendoza 0.

SMB 79 - Fajardo 22, Ross 15, Perez 11, Romeo 9, Santos 9, Pessumal 8, Cabagnot 3, Tautuaa 2, Zamar 0, Lassiter 0, Gotladera 0, Coboy 0, Gamalinda 0, Sena 0.

Quarters: 15-23, 45-36, 67-55, 97-79.