SMB, TNT in winner-take-all Game 7

San Miguel and TNT battle one last time to determine the rightful owner of the Philippine Cup crown in the Game 7 of their best-of-seven Finals series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Sunday, Sept. 4.

San Miguel Beer and TNT gun for the title in the winner-take-all Game 7 (PBA Images)

The Beermen and the Tropang Giga settle the score after ending up at deadlock after six games when their classic rivalry reaches the boiling point in the 6 p.m. encounter.

TNT drew the series first blood on a buzzer-beating jumper from Jayson Castro but SMB took advantage of the absence of head coach Chot Reyes in Games 2 and 3 to surge ahead in the series.

The Tropang Giga, though, returned the favor in Games 4 and 5 in Reyes’ return to take the series lead but couldn’t finish SMB off in Game 6 as the Beermen caught fire from the three-point territory to forge a sudden death.

History is on the side of head coach Leo Austria who remains unbeaten in every Philippine Cup Finals series he has coached since 2015 with SMB. The Beermen are also 8-0 in do-or-die games in the Finals series, including the Game 6 win and 3-0 under Austria in Game 7s in the all-Filipino Finals.

In their most recent Game 7 affair, however, the Tropang Giga got the better of the Beermen in the semifinals of last season's PH Cup.

Manpower also favors San Miguel so far with TNT dealing with a series of injuries to its key players. Jayson Castro and Glenn Khobuntin both missed TNT’s first crack at a title-clincher in Game 6.

“They did not take a gamble in using those injured players kasi they know if nagkaroon ng game 7 I’m sure ready yon. Those injured players are trying to recuperate, to fast track the healing process, alam mo naman yung technology, pwedeng gawin. I’m expecting the next game kumpleto sila, whether complete or not, TNT is really a tough team to beat,” said Austria.

Authors of the 2016 Beeracle run, the Beermen showed poise to force a decider with Marcio Lassiter and Simon Enciso being accounted for 12 three-pointers combined to lead the romp.

SMB also flexed its top notch defense when it limited Mikey Williams to his lowest output at only two points on a measly 1-of-13 shooting from the field, including a 0-of-8 clip from beyond the arc.

“We should not lay down our guards dahil this team is really hungry especially if they are up against San Miguel,” added Austria

RR Pogoy was the lone bright spot for TNT after dropping 31 points although Castro, Mikey, Kelly Williams and JP Erram are expected to come out strong in the decider especially after Reyes decided to rest them early in the fourth quarter in Game 6.