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TNT takes the first of two opportunities to close the door to San Miguel

The return of veteran Kelly Williams (in white) has boosted TNT’s inside game on both ends of the court. —PBA PICTURES

Playing with sustained brilliance at both ends two nights ago brought TNT to the door of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals, but coach Chot Reyes knows a completely different level of play is required for his Tropang Giga to turn. the goatee on Friday.

“The only way we give ourselves a chance is by putting in an excellent effort,” he said shortly after San Miguel Beer’s 110-90 win on Wednesday night.

“We could go ahead and try to predict what the brewers’ fit will be. But in the end, it is the players on the court, simply making that extra effort, that excellent effort, who will give us the opportunity to win, ”he added.

Such vigilance would have been too much if TNT, this tournament’s No. 1-seeded, played for another club.

En route to the Tropang Giga’s return trip to the Finals is the same San Miguel team that ruled this central showcase for five years in a row, that streak being snapped only last season when June Mar Fajardo, the six-time MVP. , he sat. out due to a broken pimple.

And that team, on a mission to start another dynasty, is no stranger to comebacks, especially with an intact roster.

‘Record beaten’

“I sound like a broken record, but in the end – and I have said it from the beginning: if we are not able to match the effort of San Miguel, that is what will happen, the one you saw in Game 4, that blowout”, said Reyes, whose crew will take the first of his two chances to knock out the Brewers at 3 pm at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.

Reyes was referring to a nasty 116-90 loss last Sunday when the Brewers came out the doors hard and with all guns cocked and firing never to give Tropang Giga a chance.

With a full roster, San Miguel is also the only team in league history to come back from 0-3 against to win a best-of-seven series.

Kelly Williams came back from a four-game absence and showed no signs of rust, and Poy Erram played with a broken cheekbone to help Tropang Giga underneath, as both gave TNT a boost to slow down the Beermen.

Rookie Mikey Williams, a favorite of the conference’s best single plum, looks more and more confident in this semi-final dance.

Jayson Castro came off the bench and played as TNT’s franchise player, throwing 19 points to lead another five in double digits.

He also knows the key to closing this series: “We know that San Miguel is a super strong team and they are very comfortable in the playoffs. But even then, we know we have a chance if we can make our shots and get past them. “

The other deciding factor

Magnolia will also be looking for the deciding factor against Meralco, though the hotshots will take the second of three they have in the 6 p.m. game after failing to save the bolts Wednesday in a 102-98 loss in Game 5.

The Hotshots are looking to reach the PH Cup title series for the third time in four years, while the Bolts are working first on a franchise.

And coach Norman Black, having been in this league for a while, knows there are no other ways around it.

“[W]We just have to do it one more time, ”he said, referring to the Bolts’ gallant finish in Game 5.

Meralco struggled from 11 points down and held firm despite Chris Newsome’s departure in the fourth quarter to hold off the Hotshots, who have been nothing but relentless in this series. “I mean, I know it’s going to be difficult. Magnolia will really be ready for the next game, but we have to do it one more time, ”he added.

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