SMB, TNT go for 2-0 lead as PBA Philippine Cup semifinals action returns tonight

SMB, TNT go for 2-0 lead as PBA Philippine Cup semifinals action returns tonight

San Miguel’s June Mar Fajardo (right) soars for a winner (Photo credits: PBA & CNN Ph)

By Cip D.C. Cabrera

Games Today

(Smart Araneta Coliseum)

3 p.m. — San Miguel vs. Meralco (Game 2)
6 p.m. — Magnolia vs. TNT (Game 2)

MANILA — Back in its championship form, defending titleholder Talk ‘n’ Text (TNT) Tropang Giga appears to be on a collision course with the San Miguel Beermen (SMB)—the ‘winningest’ team in the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA)—for this year’s PBA Philippine Cup Conference crown.

Tonight, the two powerhouse teams try to nail a commanding 2-0 lead over their rivals in the semifinals and move halfway towards making an epic come back to the championship round when they take on Magnolia Chicken Timplados Hotshots and Meralco Bolts in Game 2.

SMB battle it out with Meralco at 3 pm. at the Smart Araneta Coliseum while Tropang Giga slugs it out with the Hotshots in the main game slated at 6 p.m.

In the series opener on Wednesday, TNT came out waxing hot and with more energy as it took advantage of a day’s respite to outshoot a worn-down Magnolia squad, who came off from a hard-fought triumph in their three-game quarterfinals series with the North Luzon Express (NLEX) Road Warriors, including an overtime victory in Game 3.

The defense-oriented Hotshots couldn’t find an answer to the explosive performance of TNT’s power forward Mikey Williams, who has been hailed as the reigning scoring champ and knocked in 26 points built around four triples in the game.

By the third period, Tropang Giga had wrapped up the game as Williams had already unloaded all of his points before Roger Pogoy, the second highest scorer on the team, and shooting guard Glenn Khobuntin joined in the scoring fray to notch in 23 points and 18 markers, respectively.

Pogoy delivered 15 of his 23 points in the second half while Khobuntin scored 11 of his 18 markers in the last 24 minutes of action.

TNT head coach Chot Reyes was jubilant following his wards’ win, saying “I’m blessed to have players who play multiple positions.”

“We built this team primarily on versatility and agility. We’re not the biggest in the league by any means, so we have to compensate in other ways,” he added.

Meanwhile, San Miguel Beer had to rely on its vaunted firepower in demolishing a fighting Meralco squad that buckled to a 121-97 defeat at the hands of the Beermen.

One again, it was the Beermen’s star guard Christian Jaymar ‘CJ’ Perez who led his team’s offensive play, but it was the usual balanced performance of his teammates that really gave them dominance over the Bolts.

Perez scored 25 points, 18 of those as early as the first period when the Beermen dictated the tempo of the semifinal game.

SMB power forward Rodney Brondial came away with a double-double showing and tallied a career-high 20 points to go along with 11 boards.

Aside from Perez and Brondial, six more players produced eight points or more in another explosive performance for the Beermen. (ai/mtvn)

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