Corporate battles

Games today:
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
3 p.m. — TNT Tropang Giga vs Magnolia
6 p.m. — San Miguel vs Meralco

Four teams under the umbrella of two of the biggest conglomerates in the country — San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and MVP Group — intensify their titles quests when they figure in the best-of-seven semifinal series of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Reigning champion TNT Tropang Giga tips things off when it collides with Magnolia at 3 p.m. while San Miguel Beer will try to draw the first blood when it clashes with Meralco in the 6 p.m. featured encounter.

The Tropang Giga, the flagship team of industrialist Manny Pangilinan, is tipped to go all out when they battle the Hotshots in a rematch of last year’s dramatic finals showdown that was held under a bubble format in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Tropang Giga coach Chot Reyes expects a tougher grind, knowing that the Hotshots will come roaring for revenge after they defeated them in just five games to claim their first-ever championship title after six years.

TNT will be marching to the semis with fresher legs as it enjoyed plenty of rest after taking down Converge, 116-95, in their quarterfinal encounter last week.

Against the young FiberXers, Mikey Williams waxed hot and rifled 26 points and four assists, to lead the scoring parade of veterans Troy Rosario, Roger Pogoy and Jayson Castro.

“We are preparing by not worrying about the past and just focusing on what’s in front of us right now in Game 1,” Reyes said.

“We know that anyone who we’re facing in the semifinals will be a strong rebounding team so we have to take care of the ball better.”

Unlike TNT, Magnolia had to go the distance just to make its way in the semis.

The Hotshots took NLEX’s best blows before eking out a 112-106 overtime win in their do-or-die Game 3 over the weekend.

Magnolia tactician Chito Victolero sees a different battle, knowing that it will take them their most lethal form to trounce the defending champions.

Despite a shorter rest, the gritty crew of Calvin Abueva, Jio Jalalon, Mark Barroca, Paul Lee and Ian Sangalang need to make quick impact to get the early lead they need.

“They beat us in the bubble and hopefully we can compete. We will try our best again to compete and to go back to the finals,” Victolero said.

“It’s a different battle, they are the defending champions. But we just have to take a rest and begin training again.”

In the main game, expect the SMC’s top team — the Beermen — to go hard at the Bolts, who will be entering the Final Four with a lot of mileage on their legs following a grueling quarterfinal duel with Barangay Ginebra San Miguel.

In fact, San Miguel will come in fresh after topping the eliminations with a 9-2 win-loss mark while Meralco had to work hard before overcoming Ginebra in a rugged series that wrapped up only last Sunday via a scary 106-104 win.

“It’s a different situation and we were on top of the standings at that time. This is the quarterfinals. They are well-motivated. They know the glory of winning the quarterfinals to get to the semis,” said Beermen head coach Leo Austria after posting a masterful 123-93 win over Blackwater in the quarterfinals last Wednesday.

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