Games today:
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
4:30 p.m. — San Miguel vs Meralco
6:30 p.m. — TNT vs Magnolia

League heavyweights San Miguel and TNT Tropang Giga pursue the job of pulling the plug on the title aspirations of separate rivals today in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinal series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Both armed with 3-2 series leads, San Miguel faces Meralco in the opener at 4:30 p.m. while TNT meets Magnolia in the nightcap at 6:30 with victories propelling them to a race-to-four for the coveted crown.

Figuring in a see-saw battle with the Bolts, the Beermen got the momentum they needed as they weathered Meralco’s late surge en route to an 89-78 victory on Friday.

CJ Perez led the attack with 25 points and nine rebounds, while Jericho Cruz escaped from his slump to deliver 17 markers and two steals, putting San Miguel in line for its first finals appearance since 2019.

June Mar Fajardo took control of the defensive end, grabbing 15 rebounds and 12 points and Simon Enciso stepped up by drilling in 10 points and five steals.

Beermen tactician Leo Austria said they cannot let go of the opportunity to finally barge into the championship stage since winning the Commissioner’s Cup title back in 2019.

“Regarding the momentum and motivation, I think we have that and it’s up to us. This is a situation that we shouldn’t let go,” Austria said.

“Will try to figure out what’s best for us. Once our players are motivated, they know what to do.”

“We need to play our best basketball. We don’t know what might happen, especially if you’re up against Meralco.”

Meralco mentor Norman Black admitted that they were outplayed in Game 5, and they are now in a desperate position to force a do-or-die Game 7 next week.

Black said his playmakers in Chris Newsome, Chris Banchero and Aaron Black need to ramp up their respective games as the Beermen found a way to limit their contribution on the court.

“I didn’t think we matched their energy as far as intensity is concerned. That’s something that we have to change going to Game 6,” Black said.

“They’re really trying to take my guards out of the game by trapping them and denying them the basketball, we have to find a better way so they can be productive offensively.”

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