TNT seeks 3-1 lead over San Miguel; Meralco eyes equalizer vs Magnolia

Published October 9, 2021, 11:19 PM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from PBA

TNT tries to take a commanding 3-1 lead over San Miguel Beer while Meralco aims to even the score against Magnolia Pambansang Manok Sunday, Oct. 10 in Game 4 of the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Tropang Giga, who dominated the third game of the best-of-seven series two nights earlier, battle the Beermen at 2 p.m. before the Bolts try to prevent the Hotshots from putting a firm grip on their own semis affair at 4:35 p.m.

Shrugging off the disappointment of squandering a huge lead in losing Game 2, TNT got right back in a huge way with a 115-98 win while Meralco avoided dropping a 0-3 hole despite the absence of Raymond Almazan to pick a 91-86 victory.

Coach Chot Reyes’ Tropang Giga have picked up big leads in all three games, but the win last Friday was their first without allowing the Beermen to orchestrate a big rally in the fourth quarter.

Holding double-digit leads for most of the match, TNT led by a high of 25 and prevented SMB from repeating its shock 98-96 in Game 2 courtesy of a Marcio Lassiter putback at the buzzer.

Reyes said there’s no magic formula as to why that has been a trend since the series started.

“If you’re going to ask me the one characteristic or one answer for why we’re able to compete with them, I think it’s just really our effort because if don’t outwork San Miguel, we have no chance,” he said.

“Like I said already in the past, even if we outwork them, it’s not sure that we’re going to win. But the sure thing is if they outwork us, wala talaga kaming chance. Yun lang ang focus namin. We’re not thinking of anything else. We just want to make sure we’re focusing on how can we bring out that kind of effort.”

Poy Erram sparked TNT’s 11-0 start with a triple and was also a key figure on the defensive end to finish with 21 points and 13 rebounds which are both conference highs.

RR Pogoy has become the Tropang Giga’s main scorer in the series, averaging 23.3 points on 46-percent shooting while rookie guard Mikey Williams finally got into the scoring act by dropping 20 points but has made just 30 percent of his attempts in three matches.

He does have 6.0 rebounds and 6.0 assists, the latter is tops among Tropang Giga players in the semis.

Meanwhile, Meralco is once again looking to put up a strong effort in order to prevent Magnolia from going 3-1 with Almazan doubtful to play due to a sprained left ankle suffered in Game 2.

Cliff Hodge and Noy Baclao, who had a conference-high 10 points after limited action in the eliminations, came up big for Meralco while Chris Newsome is seeking to make an impact after scoring 17, including a jumper in the final seconds that stopped Magnolia’s comeback bid.

“Nobody wants to go on vacation early. We want to make this series as competitive as possible. The desire of the players has been there the entire year and that’s why we’re in this position right now,” Black said.