Beermen still trying to figure out Tropang Giga
Coach Leo Austria is far from convinced that San Miguel Beer has TNT figured out after two games of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
For Austria, whose Beermen will go for a 2-1 lead in Game 3 on Friday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, the Tropang Giga are still hard to crack.
“I’m still considering TNT as really a strong team,” Austria said after putting his squad on the board two nights ago with a 109-100 win.
Game 2 saw San Miguel redeeming itself after losing the series opener on Jayson Castro’s buzzer-beater by flexing its depth during a pivotal run early in the fourth quarter.
Vic Manuel led a group of players who gave June Mar Fajardo, no doubt the focal point of San Miguel’s offense and TNT’s defense, a breather as the Beermen won a game that saw two sides go back and forth early on.
Austria tipped his cap on the Tropang Giga, who made it a competitive affair even with coach Chot Reyes in Lebanon to coach Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the Fiba (International Basketball Federation) World Cup Asian Qualifiers.
Reyes will still be out for the 5:45 p.m. contest, with Sandy Arespacochaga tasked to lead fellow assistants in trying to make proper adjustments.
“As I’ve said before, they are a well-oiled machine, they are well-coached and they know how to run their plays because they’ve been together for a long time,” Austria said.
“At talagang nakakatakot itong TNT (TNT is really a scary team),” he added. “But I’m sure, they’ll bounce back because they are equipped with everything and they know what we are doing.”
One player determined to atone for the loss is TNT scorer Mikey Williams, who was held to just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting. It was the first time this conference that last season’s Rookie of the Year failed to score in double figures.
An injured ankle caused by a fall by San Miguel’s Simon Enciso may have contributed to Williams’ struggles, though the Tropang Giga cager vowed to be ready against the Beermen defense.
“I’ll be ready for Game 3. I’ll figure out how to do better,” he said.
RR Pogoy has been TNT’s best scorer at this point of the series, firing 28 points in Game 2, but he failed to score during the fourth quarter when the Beermen tore away.