TNT, Magnolia seek 3-1 cushion

TNT, Magnolia seek 3-1 cushion

Semis action heats up in Bacolor

MANILA, Philippines — TNT seeks a 3-1 lead against San Miguel Beer while Magnolia tries a second time to get on the hill versus Meralco today as the semifinal protagonists step up their drives in 46th PBA Philippine Cup in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Tropang Giga enter the 2 p.m. fourth game with sky-high confidence from their emphatic 115-98 Game 3 romp last Friday.

To repeat against the mighty Beermen, TNT coach Chot Reyes reminded his undersized troops to stay the course and maintain their blue-collar mentality.

“One reason we’re able to compete with them is really our all-out effort,” said Reyes, whose squad is battling full-strength SMB minus Kelly Williams, the veteran center currently under the league’s health protocols.

“If we don’t outwork San Miguel, we have no chance. So that’s our focus. We’re not thinking of anything else. We just want to make sure we focus on how we can bring out that kind of effort.”

Such work rate reaped dividends last time as the Tropang Giga posted the most lopsided victory in the best-of-seven series so far with RR Pogoy and Poy Erram churning out conference-high productions and rookie Mikey Williams finally making his presence felt. TNT squeaked past SMB in the opener, 89-88, while SMB rallied to a 98-96 nail-biter in the second game.

Meanwhile, the Hotshots take another crack at a third win after the undermanned Bolts, overcoming the absence of Raymond Almazan (ankle injury) and Aaron Black (hand injury), scored a breakthrough 91-86 win in Game 3.

“Not the time to panic but it’s the time to have that sense of urgency na (we) need to go back to our system, kung anong nagdala sa amin dito sa semis,” said Magnolia mentor Chito Victolero ahead of the 4:35 p.m. Game 4. “We need to match yung will to win and aggressiveness nila.”

Successful in avoiding a deep 0-3 hole, the rejuvenated Bolts are now in a position to draw level with Magnolia at 2-2.

“We’ve put ourselves back in the series, that’s all we’ve done. They’re still up 2-1,” said Meralco strategist Norman Black. “Now all we’re concentrating on is viewing the tapes, finding out exactly what they did offensively and defensively, making our adjustments and coming out on Sunday.”