Beermen shoot for 3-1 lead

Olmin Leyba - The Philippine Star
Beermen shoot for 3-1 lead
San Miguel Beer against Tropang Giga.
PBA image

MANILA, Philippines — Pumped-up San Miguel Beer sets out to tighten the noose on TNT on a day the Tropang Giga’s coach Chot Reyes is expected to return to the fold in the PBA Philippine Cup finals at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

While Reyes was away attending to Gilas Pilipinas duties in Lebanon, the Beermen outsteadied the Tropang Giga in Games 2 and 3, 109-100 and 108-100 in overtime, respectively, to surge ahead at 2-1.

The determined Beermen intend to push even harder in the 6:03 p.m. fourth game to create more distance and more importantly, move a step closer to its first championship since the 2019 Commissioner’s Cup.

“I hope the Game 3 win gave us some confidence and morale booster because I’m sure TNT, with the arrival of their coach, they will be better next game,” said SMB mentor Leo Austria.

Reyes, who steered TNT to a pulsating 86-84 squeaker in the series opener, arrived from Beirut along with the Gilas contingent yesterday morning. He sat down with the TNT coaching staff immediately for a meeting and attended the Tropang Giga’s noontime training session for their bid to force SMB to a 2-2 standoff.

“We’re down 1-2 but we’ve got coach coming back and that’s a very big boost for us,” said assistant coach Sandy Arespacochaga, who stood in for Reyes in the two matches.

TNT actually had a chance to steal Game 3 as it had final possession in the last 11 seconds of regulation and SMB was called for a technical foul after back-to-back delay-of-game infractions on the inbounds play.

RR Pogoy canned the free throw to knot the count at 94-94. In their last offensive, the Tropang Giga tasked their closeout guy, Jayson Castro, to do the honors like he did with aplomb in Game 1. But the SMB defense forced “The Blur” to an off-balanced, harmless attempt this time.

SMB eventually outplayed TNT in the extra period, sparked by sub Robbie Herndon, who atoned for his near costly infraction in the dying seconds of the fourth with a personal 5-0 run that touched things off in OT.

“I had to make up for it so I was a little motivated,” said Herndon, whose booboo eventually allowed the Tropang Giga to drag the game into an extension. “It lit a fire in me because that’s a big turnaround.”

The consecutive losses for sure will light a fire on TNT in tonight’s matchup, too.

“We had our chances. We had an opportunity to win the game but sayang, hindi kami nanalo. We have to learn from Game 3 but the next game is more important right now,” said Arespacochaga.

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