TNT braces for next big problem: June Mar Fajardo or Greg Slaughter
MANILA, Philippines—TNT solved its first big problem of the playoffs when it defeated 6-foot-9 Christian Standhardinger and the rest of the defending champion Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup.
The Tropang Giga’s next puzzle, however, is bigger.
Depending on the quarterfinals series between the fourth and fifth seeds, TNT could face either San Miguel and the 6-foot-10 June Mar Fajardo or NorthPort and 7-foot Greg Slaughter.
“It’s either June Mar of Greg, that’s the problem we will try to solve this break,” said Reyes after their 84-71 win Wednesday at DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
“We just finished one problem, now it’s one more.”
The Tropang Giga may have received a bit of reprieve as the Gin Kings played with a depleted lineup as Scottie Thompson and 6-foot-9 power forward Japeth Aguilar were out of the series due to health reasons.
Thompson was subjected to the league’s health and safety protocols while Aguilar has a sprained MCL on his left knee.
Reyes, whose team finished top seed at the end of the eliminations, is fully aware of the problems San Miguel poses.
Before the Ging Kings’ triumph in 2020, the Beermen held the Philippine Cup for five straight years and the team now has a fully healthy Fajardo, the winner of six MVP trophies.
San Miguel was also the only team to defeat the Tropang Giga, 83-67, in the elimination round on September 8.
TNT does own a 102-92 win over the Batang Pier.
“San Miguel kicked our butts, they beat us and beat us badly. We have our work cut out for us,” said Reyes. “We defeated the defending champion, but San Miguel is the five-time defending champion before them.”