Finals return beckons TNT

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

After posting back-to-back wins, TNT Tropang Giga is determined to go for the kill when it faces Magnolia in Game 5 of their Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinals series today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Game time is at 3 p.m. with the Tropang Giga eager to make a return to the finals for the second time since head coach Chot Reyes returned to the bench after a long stint with Gilas Pilipinas.

In the second game, San Miguel Beer and Magnolia gun for a pivotal 3-2 lead when they collide in Game 5 of their own best-of-seven finals affair.

Reyes is back in a familiar situation after leading his wards to a lopsided 102-84 victory in Game 4 that gave them a commanding 3-1 lead — the same cushion that they had when they won the Philippine Cup title last year in Pampanga.

While Mikey Williams is offensively struggling with only 15 points and seven assists, it’s big man Poy Erram who has been showing his lethal form in the past two games.

The 6-foot-8 slotman from Ateneo d Manila University had a solid double-double game of 19 points and 13 rebounds, while Roger Pogoy dropped 15 of his 18 points in the first half.

While a Game 5 victory would be an interesting replication of fate, Reyes anticipates a tough resistance from the Hotshots.

“Good thing we have veterans. They’ve been here before so they know how difficult it is to win (that) game No. 4,” Reyes said.

“We just have to remind them and more importantly, we put them in a position to come and play their best in the next game.”

But Magnolia, like a hard-nosed team it has always been, won’t just surrender that easily.

Hotshots tactician Chito Victolero rued their sloppy defense but admitted that they have to rely on their physicality and avoid getting into foul troubles again.

“We were the No. 1 defensive team, but we cannot show our defense right now,” Victolero said.

“If we can’t defend well, then we won’t stand a chance. It depends on us on how we’re going to play our defense.”

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