Photo from PBA

RR Pogoy is elated to play a huge role in TNT ending its playoff frustrations against San Miguel Beer after winning the deciding seventh game of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series.

Pogoy fired 27 points in the 97-79 victory Sunday, Oct. 17 at the Don Honorio Ventura State University after being held to a combined total of eight points in the Tropang Giga’s losses in Games 4 and 6.

TNT’s victory enabled Pogoy to finally savor the sweet taste of beating the Beermen in the games that count, something he has not enjoyed since his PBA debut in the 2016-17 season.

The many-time Gilas Pilipinas member and TNT lost six times to SMB, including a pair of six-game setbacks for the championship in the 2017 and 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.

Even before Pogoy’s arrival, TNT has been struggling against San Miguel since winning its last playoff series in the 2013 Commissioner’s Cup quarterfinals.

“Sa five years ko sa PBA, palagi kaming natatalo talaga sa mga playoffs sa San Miguel,” Pogoy said following the series-clincher at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.

“Motivated talaga ako ngayon na sana man lang, kahit isa lang, kahit ngayon lang, makabawi kami. Sobrang daming motivation talaga heading into this game,” added Pogoy.

But more than regaining his shooting touch, Pogoy also took pride in having a hand in TNT’s impressive defensive effort that made it a rough end to SMB’s campaign in the season-opening tourney.

One of his jobs was to defend Marcio Lassiter, who failed to score after his 19-point showing in Game 6 enabled SMB to force the decider.

Terrence Romeo could only finish with nine points as Pogoy was among those who let the SMB guard bleed for his points.

“Sa totoo lang, sinasabihan ako ni coach na hindi ako mag-focus sa offense ko kasi dati kinukuha niya ako sa Gilas dahil sa depensa ko. Tapos ‘yung offense, susunod lang daw yan,” he said.

“So yun, focus ko, depensa lang talaga kay Terrence, kay Marcio. Blessed lang talaga na dumating din yung offense ko.”

Now in the finals for the third time in his career, Pogoy is bracing for a much-difficult battle against Magnolia Pambansang Manok, which TNT beat in the eliminations.

But Pogoy said the Hotshots’ form in their semifinal win over the Meralco Bolts is a possible prelude to a different scenario once the title series starts.

“Sa totoo lang kung mas mahirap ang San Miguel, siguro sa Finals, mas mahirap pa, yung Magnolia kalabanin namin,” Pogoy said. “Ang ganda ng tinakbo nila ngayon. Ano naman e, may dahilan kung bakit nasa Finals sila so mahirap talaga sila kalabanin.”