TNT makes finals in style


TNT Tropang Giga ousted San Miguel Beer in style, 97-79, on Sunday night to advance to the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup Finals.

And with a flourish the KaTropa played Game 7 of the best-of-seven semifinal series that had all the makings of a what-could-have-been a championship showdown between two of the most successful teams in the 46-year-old league.

“The frame of mind coming into this game is to be excited because we are blessed that we’re in this position,” said Chot Reyes, who was recalled to the TNT bench just before the season started. “Then, the players bought into it and believed.”

It was an all-TNT show on Sunday night as the Beermen, ousted for the second straight season from the Philippine Cup which they dominated for five straight years prior, couldn’t find the rhythm that allowed them to forge the winner-take-all duel.

“They players came with a great resolve, they executed and made the defensive stops,” Reyes said. “So we’re good that we’re back in the finals.”

TNT is appearing in its eighth Philippine Cup and 21st overall Finals appearance. Waiting for the KaTropa are the Magnolia Hotshots, who ousted Meralco, 93-85, in six games on Friday.

It was one hell of a semifinals series with the results seesawing closely at the start and swinging widely toward the end. TNT took Game 1 by a hair, 89-88, allowed San Miguel Beer to tie by two points, 96-98, in Game 2, took Game 3 by storm, 115-98, before yielding by a mile itself, 90-116, in Game 4.

The KaTropa were relentless anew in Game 5, 110-90, only to lose momentum in Game 6, 90-103.

Roger Pogoy was a point guard with a mission at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

“In my five years with TNT, we were always defeated by San Miguel Beer in the playoffs,” he said. “I was really motivated and focused on beating San Miguel Beer, because they are very difficult to beat.”

Pogoy was nowhere to be seen in the first two quarters when TNT started to rip San Miguel Beer apart. But the former Far Eastern University Tamaraw waxed hot with 23 of his 27 points in the second half, hitting an overall 10 of his 19 shots.

He made 13 points in the final quarter to highlight TNT’s insurmountable 97-71 advantage.

Rookie Mikey Williams redeemed himself after forgettable performances by racking up 20 points, eight rebounds and six assists, while Troy Rosario had 12 points and 12 rebounds.

Kelly Williams also had a double-double of 11 points and 10 rebounds and JP Erram made nine points, 11 rebounds and three blocks.

June Mar Fajardo led San Miguel Beer with 22 points, 16 rebounds and two blocks, but Marcio Lassiter, the go-to guy in the Beermen’s victories in the series, missed all of his eight attempts.

Mo Tautuaa played only 10 minutes for the Beermen after he hurt his leg in the third quarter. he finished with two points and one rebound.

Game 1 of the best-of-seven Finals is tentatively set on Wednesday with a strong possibility for the series to be played at the Ynares Center in Pasig City.

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