San Miguel, TNT brace for physical PBA Finals showdown
MANILA, Philippines–Defending champion TNT and San Miguel Beer are bracing for a grueling battle in their 2022 PBA Philippine Cup Finals showdown which starts Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
The clash for the most important prize of the PBA season will pit a Tropang Giga squad that will look to retain their title against a Beermen side hoping to regain their place as the All-Filipino’s top team after a three-year absence.
“We know it’s gonna be a challenge playing against a well-coached and great team in the San Miguel Beermen,” said TNT star Mikey Williams during the PBA’s pre-Finals press conference held at Novotel Manila in Cubao.
Williams, last year’s Finals Most Valuable Player after dispatching Magnolia in five games, added that he’s “excited to get the series going” as he and the rest of TNT prepare for a difficult challenge against San Miguel.
San Miguel heads into the series with a roster different from its run of five straight All-Filipino championships from 2015 to 2019, with a healthy June Mar Fajardo backed by CJ Perez, Jericho Cruz, Mo Tautuaa and Vic Manuel.
The Beermen came off a tough seven-game semifinal series with the Meralco Bolts, who they wore down behind their loaded squad.
But Fajardo is also wary of the Tropang Giga’s roster that also has veteran Jayson Castro, Poy Erram, RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Kelly Williams.
TNT heads to the series which starts Sunday at Smart Araneta Coliseum having the luxury of a longer rest following a six-game triumph over Magnolia in the other semis matchup.
“It’s not going to be an easy series for us,” Fajardo said in Filipino. “We’re expecting a physical series and we have to be ready for what’s going to come.”
The Beermen won their lone elims match against the Tropang Giga, 115-99, last July 7, but the coaches of both teams said that the result will hardly matter once they troop the floor.
“Very honestly, it’s gonna be very difficult if you objectively look at how deep and how strong the other team is,” said Tropang Giga coach Chot Reyes, who will however miss at least two Finals games due to his role as Gilas Pilipinas mentor in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Reyes will gun for a seventh All-Filipino title that will break his tie with the great Baby Dalupan while San Miguel counterpart Leo Austria aims to join the two tacticians in the six-time winners club.
“Come the first game, we will know how we can assess the performance of each team, and the Finals is always a game of adjustments,” Austria said.
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