A full-force TNT clobbered San Miguel Beer, 110-90, to take Game Five of their 2021 Honda PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series, Wednesday evening at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Tropang Giga drilled five straight triples in a fiery 17-0 run en route to a 30-9 advantage late in the first quarter, and that was all they needed to avenge the humiliating rout they suffered in Game Four last Sunday.
More importantly, the flagship MVP Group franchise has moved one win away from booking a return trip to the all-Filipino finale.
“Our focus has really been, first, to get our effort and our energy levels back up,” said coach Chot Reyes. “For some reason, I guess I wasn’t able to prepare the players better, give them better recovery and rest for the last game.
“So we talked a lot about it, about how we started the game, and we just said, let’s focus on getting this one. Now, we can take a look at the next one.”
Veteran guard Jayson Castro top-scored for TNT with a conference-high 19 points off the bench. Fellow guards Mikey Williams and Roger Pogoy were in their element once again as they finished with 18 points apiece.
“‘Yung Game Four sobrang tinambakan kami. ‘Yung motivation namin going this game talagang mataas, kasi itong series na ‘to parang game of adjustments eh,” said the 35-year-old Castro.
Troy Rosario made 17 points and eight rebounds in the victory that gave veteran center Kelly Williams the welcome he deserves.
Out for a couple of weeks in accordance with health and safety protocols, the former league MVP started the game and had 12 points. He also had three boards, three assists, a steal, and a block in over 29 minutes.
Also making a mark was the injured Poy Erram, who still contributed 10 points and six rebounds despite nursing a fractured cheekbone.
“Credit to those two guys,” said Reyes of Williams and Erram. “They came out, and they gave us huge minutes, even in less than ideal circumstances.”
The Tropang Giga as a whole shot 48-percent from the field, highlighted by 14 three-pointers — the most they’ve made so far this semis.
“Kailangan lang namin din maging confident sa mga shots namin kasi kahit na napakalakas ng team na ‘yun, alam namin na may chance kami manalo as long as magawa namin ‘yung game plan ni Coach,” said Castro.
Meanwhile, June Mar Fajardo led San Miguel with 23 points and 12 rebounds in the match that ended up in yet another lopsided result.
CJ Perez contributed 18 points and eight rebounds. Arwind Santos supplied 14 points and six boards, while Terrence Romeo and Mo Tautuua added 12 and 10 markers, respectively in the deflating defeat.
The Beermen showed some signs of life in the fourth quarter but they could only go as near as 14, 80-94, as Pogoy and Williams connived to re-establish TNT’s lead to 21 points approaching the final two minutes.
Game Six is on Friday at 3:00 p.m., with the Tropang Giga definitely looking to book the first ticket to the Big Dance expected to start next week.
TNT 110 – Castro 19, M. Williams 18, Pogoy 18, Rosario 17, Williams 12, Erram 10, Reyes 6, Montalbo 5, Exciminiano 3, Marcelo 2, Khobuntin 0, Heruela 0, Alejandro 0.
San Miguel 90 – Fajardo 23, Perez 18, Santos 14, Romeo 12, Tautuaa 10, Lassiter 5, Ross 3, Pessumal 3, Cabagnot 2, Zamar 0, Gamalinda 0, Sena 0.
Quarterscores: 32-17, 61-35, 81-61, 110-90.