TNT, San Miguel eye 2-0 leads

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

TNT Tropang Giga and San Miguel Beer are eager to sustain their fiery form as they try to double their respective leads in Game 2 of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal series today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

After a convincing 108-96 victory in Game 1 last Wednesday, Tropang Giga spitfire Mikey Williams and his troops will attempt to launch another stinging attack when they face Magnolia in the second game at 6 p.m.

The Beermen, meanwhile, are also looking to make it a 2-0 lead against a struggling Meralco side at 3 p.m.

TNT head coach Chot Reyes said their lopsided opening win over the Hotshots might have set the tone for an action-packed series, but it will never be an indication that they can easily foil Magnolia.

Williams, who was Magnolia’s nightmare during their title clash last year, made his presence felt again, firing 26 markers, while mainstay RR Pogoy completed their one-two combo after putting up 23 markers, five assists and two steals.

“We know that the other team is a very good team, especially that they take a lot of pride in their defense,” Reyes said.

“We’re sure they’re gonna come up with something different this time. It’s upon us to be ready for it, to prepare ourselves for it.”

San Miguel is likewise raring to solidify its upper hand.

Aiming to make their first finals appearance in the past four conferences, the Beermen displayed their old, blazing form as they booked a 121-97 win over the Bolts in Game 1.

San Miguel dominated both ends, tallying an impressive 57 percent shooting while forcing Meralco to commit 17 turnovers.

Second stringer Rodney Brondial had his best game in Beermen jersey with 20 points and 11 rebounds, while CJ Perez delivered 25 points and five rebounds.

Vic Manuel muscled his way to a 16-point performance on 7-of-8 shooting from the field, while June Mar Fajardo and Marcio Lassiter combined for 21 markers.

Beermen mentor Leo Austria, however, said they cannot afford to be too complacent as they know the Bolts are capable of staging an upset similar to what they did to Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the quarterfinals.

For its part, San Miguel was booted out twice by Meralco in their previous playoff series during the 2020 Philippine Cup and 2021 Governors’ Cup.

“We were really surprised with the performance of our players. We know Meralco, they’ve beaten us so many times during the bubble and last conference as well,” Austria said.

“We never expected these players to be very motivated. But I know Meralco will adjust a lot in the next game.”

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