TNT, SMB eye semis berths

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines — For top seed San Miguel Beer and No. 2 TNT, it’s time to reap the fruits of their hard work throughout the eliminations and during the mad dash for the coveted quarterfinal incentives.

With fresher legs and a shorter route to the PBA Philippine Cup semis in mind, the twice-to-beat Beermen seek to advance outright with a victory against eighth-ranked Blackwater in tonight’s 6 p.m. main game at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Tropang Giga carry the same mission against No. 7 Converge at 3 p.m. as they try to take the next step in their title-retention bid.

The odds may be in their favor but TNT coach Chot Reyes said they should be on their toes against the tough league debutants. In their lone meeting in the elims, the Tropang Giga needed Jayson Castro’s late heroics to pull off an 86-83 escape act against the upset-conscious FiberXers.

“Yung effort namin in our game in the elimination round, it’s not going to be enough come the playoffs,” said Reyes. “So yun ang focus talaga namin. We have to raise the level of our game.”

He noted Converge’s strong offensive rebounding and fastbreak game as the major areas to address for the Tropang Giga to stop the FiberXers from forcing a deciding game.

“They’re a big team and well-distributed ang minutes nila so mapapalaban kami nang husto nito,” said Reyes. “We have to keep them off the glass, stop them sa fastbreak and also important, at least ma-match yung energy nila.”

It’s been 17 days since TNT’s last outing and the break allowed Troy Rosario and Brian Heruela to recover from their respective injuries and get ready for the playoffs.

Meanwhile, rejuvenated June Mar Fajardo and the Beermen look to continue their climb back to the summit. Standing in their way is a Bossing team bent on extending its redemption tour.

The Bossing made the playoffs after their league-worst 29-game losing streak in the previous season.

Notes: TNT ace guard Mikey Williams signed a three-year contract extension with the Tropang Giga yesterday, ending a prolonged negotiation that led to the Fil-Am’s absence in the early part of the season-opening tournament.



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