Tropang Giga gun for 2-0 lead sans Chot

Game today:
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:45 p.m. — TNT vs San Miguel

Head coach Chot Reyes will not be around when TNT Tropang Giga battles San Miguel Beer for a comfortable 2-0 advantage in Game 2 of the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup best-of-seven finals series today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Action fires off at 5:45 p.m. with the Tropang Giga facing serious challenge as they march without the six-time PBA Coach of the Year, who already flew to Beirut to lead Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup
With Reyes out, assistant coaches Sandy Arespacochaga, Yuri Escueta and team manager Jojo Lastimosa will take turns in barking orders from the sidelines to essay a fitting follow-up to their thrilling 86-84 escape in Game 1.

It was a tightly-contested battle even after the final buzzer as Jayson Castro’s winning jumper was reviewed multiple times, with the game officials examining whether he fired his shot before the red light struck.

PBA deputy commissioner Eric Castro stood by their decision after conducting further examination based on multiple angles and images sought by the league.

Castro, who nailed 15 points and three rebounds, proved that he is still the go-to guy after sinking his third game-winner in the conference since victimizing Converge and Magnolia in the playoffs.

With his trusted deputies and the 36-year-old Castro leading the charge, Reyes knows that his team is in safe hands.

“In situations like this, they can step in. Coach Yuri and Coach Sandy are going to step forward, Boss Jolas (Lastimosa) would help as well,” Reyes said.

“For me, as a head coach, I really spend a lot of effort and I’m very intentional in developing my coaching staff as well.”

“They will take the cudgels so let’s see how well they’ll do.”

But the Beermen also wants to stop the bleeding.

Leading by as much as 15 points in the first half, San Miguel’s offense crumbled to the ground en route to suffering a stunning defeat.

Best Player of the Conference frontrunner June Mar Fajardo admitted that the Tropang Giga was the better team in Game 1, which was punctuated by a dagger of a jumper by one of the league’s steadiest clutch players.

The 6-foot-10 behemoth said they cannot do anything but move on, expecting that they would come up with a stronger offense to get the win.

During their loss, the Beermen bench only poured 27 points and committed an uncharacteristic 19 turnovers that mostly came in the second half.

“They really won and we lost, but it was just Game 1. But we still have a lot of chances, we have the chance to bounce back,” said Fajardo, who finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds in their loss.

“That’s one thing that we have to address. Whenever we are leading the game with a big (margin), our offense tends to relax.”

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