Clinch or extend?

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Clinch or extend?
Meralco guard Aaron Black goes for a basket against San Miguel Beer’s Simon Enciso in Game 5.
STAR / File

Defending titlist

MANILA, Philippines — TNT takes a second crack at a ticket to the PBA Philippine Cup finals. San Miguel Beer wants to advance on the first try. And their respective semifinal opponents set out to stop them at all costs and force a sudden death.

Today’s double-header Game 6 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum promises to be a humdinger.

Stalled last Friday, the Tropang Giga want to get the closeout job right this time at 6:30 p.m. against a defiant Magnolia rival.

After reaching the hill in the race-to-four contest via an 89-78 verdict two nights before, the Beermen aim to go back-to-back and finish off a resistant Meralco in their 4:30 p.m. tiff.

The Tropang Giga are shooting for their third consecutive championship stint while the Beermen are gunning for their first finale since securing a record five-peat in 2019.

TNT fell short of the clincher in the fifth game after yielding a 105-97 loss to the no-quit Hotshots but intends to make the most of its second chance to meet its objective.

“Kailangan lang namin i-match yung energy nila at maging aggressive din kami sa Game 6,” said Tropang Giga veteran guard Jayson Castro, who led the team in scoring with 17 in Game 5.

“Mag-stick lang kami sa defensive game plan at ipakita din namin na gusto naming manalo. As a veteran sa team, kailangan i-motivate ko yung younger guys para maipanalo na namin itong Game 6,” he added.

The Hotshots vowed to fight it all out in another do-or-die situation.

“Laban lang nang laban hanggang dulo,” said guard Jio Jalalon, who is playing through hamstring issues.

San Miguel coach Leo Austria, meanwhile, hopes his charges sustain the fire after their go-ahead win in Game 5.

“We have the momentum and the motivation, now it’s up to us (to finish the mission). Let’s not let this opportunity slip away,’” he said.

Meralco counterpart Norman Black remains confident as the Bolts shoot for a 3-3 tie.

“They (SMB) are a pretty good team. But we’ll bounce back, we’ll be back on Sunday,” said Black, whose charges wiped out a 15-point deficit but couldn’t make the plays in the stretch to complete the fightback.

He also exhorted the Bolts to dial up their intensity in the must-win encounter after failing to match SMB’s level last time.

“I don’t think we matched their energy and intensity and that’s something we have to change going into Game 6,” said Black.


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