Battle of Bacolor

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Battle of Bacolor
Poy Erram of TNT (left) and Rafi Reavis of Magnolia will play key roles in the best-of-seven finals beginning tonight in Bacolor, Pampanga.
STAR / File

Tropang Giga, Hotshots lock horns

MANILA, Philippines — The battle lines are drawn as high-powered sides TNT and Magnolia set out to seize the moment after hurdling major obstacles on their way to the 46th PBA Philippine Cup finale.

The Tropang Giga and the Hotshots, who forged an explosive Last Dance gig after dismantling San Miguel Beer (4-3) and Meralco (4-2), respectively, are psyching themselves up for a possible protracted war for the crown jewel.

“The two teams are evenly matched and I expect a Game 7 from hereon,” Magnolia’s governor Rene Pardo said during yesterday’s pre-finals press conference.

“It’s going to be a possession by possession, minute by minute battle. The one who wants it more will have the advantage,” offered TNT governor and PBA chairman Ricky Vargas.

The defense-savvy protagonists need not dig deep to find motivation to win this live-wire best-of-seven confrontation that begins tonight at 6 p.m. at the Don Honorio Ventura State U Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Both are hungry with TNT on an extended title drought since winning the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup and Magnolia unsuccessful since its 2018 Governors’ Cup triumph.

They are similarly coming off a failed championship drive in two previous attempts over the last eight conferences. Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy and the Tropang Giga fell short in the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup and 2020 All-Filipino while the Hotshots bombed in the 2018 and 2019 Philippine Cups finals.

“It’s been six years since the last championship of the franchise so that really makes the team hungry. Gutom na gutom,” said TNT coach Chot Reyes.

“Katulad din ng sa TNT ang mindset namin. This is our third time na mag-try sa championship. Hopefully ma get-over-the-hump kami,” countered Magnolia mentor Chito Victolero.

Then there’s the pride of carrying the banners of their respective mother companies, the Manny V. Pangilinan Group for TNT and San Miguel Corp. for Magnolia.

In carrying on with their return-to-the-top mission, Reyes and his troops can also make it a triple-kill against the SMC ballclubs after dethroning Ginebra in the quarterfinals and nosing out SMB in a marathon semis duel, 4-3.

But Victolero and his charges are determined to man the fort and stretch SMC’s domination to a 12th consecutive tournament.

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