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PBA: SMB, Magnolia eye semis

Basketball Court | Pixabay
Basketball Court | Pixabay

By JONAS TERRADO

Games Today
(Mall of Asia Arena)
4:30 p.m. – San Miguel vs TNT KaTropa
7 p.m. – Magnolia vs GlobalPort

The San Miguel Beermen begin what their coach sees as a tough road toward a fourth straight PBA Philippine Cup tonight, hoping to make a short work of TNT KaTropa in their quarterfinal faceoff at the Mall of Asia Arena.

San Miguel, which ended the eliminations as the top seed, needs to beat No. 8-ranked TNT once to secure a place in the semifinals against the winner of the best-of-three series between Barangay Ginebra San Miguel and Rain or Shine.

Their quarterfinal match is set at 4:30 p.m. before the Magnolia Hotshots Pambansang Manok look to finish off the GlobalPort Batang Pier in the other quarters duel at 7 p.m.

Magnolia likewise carries a twice-to-beat bonus for placing second in the eliminations, but seventh placer GlobalPort will try to prolong the matchup, especially after Terrence Romeo made his return last week following a lengthy absence due to a knee contusion.

Beermen coach Leo Austria expressed concern over the journey that lies ahead for his talented squad, particularly with TNT still having one of the most talented teams despite having to claim the eighth and final quarters berth the hard way via a 118-97 win over Phoenix in Sunday’s playoff.

San Miguel, meanwhile, ended the elims on a losing note, dropping a 105-90 decision to the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters that spoiled Alex Cabagnot’s return from a foot injury.

“I’m really worried about this team,” Austria said Sunday while watching TNT’s victory at the Smart Araneta Coliseum “Galing kami sa talo at the end of the eliminations, ito naman galing sa panalo and alam mo na after ng game na ito, lahat ng stats wala na yan, back to zero lahat yan. So kung sino yung gustong manalo, I think yun ang magpe-prevail.”

What also worries Austria is the next chapter of San Miguel’s quest to remain as kingpins of the PBA’s premier tournament. Should the Beermen advance, they’ll face equally-talented squad in Ginebra and Rain or Shine in a best-of-seven affair.

But first, the Beermen will have to take care of business against TNT, with June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Cabagnot, Arwind Santos and Chris Ross leading the charge.

San Miguel beat TNT, 88-76, in Iloilo City last Jan. 13 in a game that saw the Beermen needing a late breakaway to survive the KaTropa.

TNT, which led for most of the first three quarters of that game, hopes to put a better showing as it fights for dear life. Jayson Castro and Troy Rosario are expected to anchor coach Nash Racela’s squad alongside new addition Jericho Cruz, RR Pogoy and Kelly Williams.

What do you think?

Written by Tempo Online

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