(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
7 p.m. – San Miguel vs TNT
Defending champion San Miguel and TNT KaTropa begin their best-of-seven semifinal series in the PBA Philippine Cup tonight at the Smart Araneta Coliseum, with both teams expecting an intriguing between two of the league’s premier teams.
The opener, set for 7 p.m., will feature a Beermen team that steamrolled through the semis with 10 consecutive victories and a KaTropa squad that had difficulty finding rhythm before passing a stern test in the quarterfinals.
It seems that this battle is expected since the start, with SMB coach Leo Austria even sizing up TNT’s capability prior to the KaTropa’s sweep of the GlobalPort Batang Pier in the best-of-three quarters.
“I know they’ll make it to the next round,” Austria said after the Beermen dispatched the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters in Sunday’s quarterfinal at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City – one day before TNT’s formal entry to the semis.
“It’s very evident kasi nasunod ang game plan nila. Maybe, parang yan ang hinihintay ng TNT. We will keep on doing our doing best dahil in the last two months, di pa kami natatalo. I hope masustain namin ito against TNT – but I know it will be a hard game because these teams are championship teams.”
San Miguel enters the series as the favorite, owing to that 10 straight victories powered by June Mar Fajardo, Alex Cabagnot, Marcio Lassiter and Arwind Santos and a deep bench that saw RR Garcia erupting for 25 points in a 98-91 mastery of Rain or Shine.
There’s one thing that worries Austria, though.
“Worried ako dahil baka abutin kami ng law of averages,” he said. “Buti na lang it’s a series, we can afford to lose, but every game, we will try to win. Itong mga players, makikita mo na even in the last two games of the elims, we’re already in the playoffs, ayaw nila magpatalo.
“Sabi ko sa kanila, it’s a good habit dahil nade-develop ang kanilang killer instinct.”