SMB, TNT go for 2-0 leads

San Miguel Beer and TNT gun for a 2-0 lead over their respective opponents in Game 2 of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semifinals Friday, Aug. 5, at the Araneta Coliseum.

Jayson Castro (PBA Images)

A pair of routs marked the start of their semifinals showdown with the Tropang Giga manhandling the Magnolia Hotshots, 108-96, while the Beermen demolished the weary Meralco Bolts, 121-97, to take the first victory of their respective series.

SMB eyes a repeat of their Game 1 performance against Meralco in the opening game at 3 p.m. before TNT hopes to assert its mastery over Magnolia in the second game at 6 p.m.

Both winning coaches, coach Leo Austria of SMB and coach Chot Reyes of TNT, are wary of the huge fightbacks from their opponents come the next match.

“I felt they really strengthened their team. They added some key pieces, they have the depth in the big man spot. Laput is playing well, Aris Dionisio is giving us a lot of problems so I think they are much better team,” Reyes said of the Hotshots in the aftermath of TNT’s Game 1 win.

“We cannot expect that this will be the same as the last series because this is a different team. So for us to be competitive we have to raise our level of play, hopefully we are able to do that on a game-to-game basis,” said Reyes referring to their 4-1 series win over Magnolia in the finals last PH Cup.

Mikey Williams starred for TNT with 26 points – 18 of which came in the first half to build the sizable margin it managed to sustain throughout the way. RR Pogoy also had his share of the spotlight with 23 points.

Austria, meanwhile, believes tired legs may have caught up with Meralco following a three-game series against Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals – something that he wants his wards to take advantage of.

“We have to improve on our defense dahil that’s the key. We're trying our best na gawin yung gameplan namin. We succeeded tonight and I hope masustain namin ito. I hope my players are still hungry. This is just only one game, it’s a long series we can never know what will happen next,” said the multi-titled coach.

Rodney Brondial put up a double-double performance with a career-high 20 points on top of 11 rebounds. CJ Perez also came through with a 25-point outing to spark SMB’s deciding run right in the opening frame.