FOR defending champion TNT, it was the headstart that the team is looking before coach Chot Reyes leaves for a few games to join the Jordan Clarkson-led Gilas Pilipinas team in Beirut, Lebanon.
For San Miguel Beer, it was a heartbreaker that could serve as a wake-up call for a team which blew a commanding 15-point lead and lost on Jayson Castro’s game-winner as time expired.
With Game 1 which ended in a controversial 86-84 win for TNT last Sunday now in memory books, the Tropang Giga and the Beermen renew their rivalry today in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Game 2 of the best-of-seven title series is scheduled at 5:45 p.m. today with the Tropang Giga gunning for a commanding 2-0 lead and the Beermen hoping to equalize at 1-1.
Even without Reyes, the Tropang Giga are confident that they can duplicate their success with TNT assistant coaches Sndy Arespacochaga and Yuri Escueta calling the shots for the team.
Even TNT team manager Jojo Lastimosa is expected to do his share.
“Magtutulungan sina coach Sandy, Yuri and even team manager Jojo Lastimosa can pitch in some ideas, “said Reyes in an interview posted at the official PBA website.
“It would be a good measure of my coaching ability if my team could perform at a high level without me.”
San Miguel big man June Mar Fajardo had an explanation on the Beermen’s second-half meltdown.
“Yun ang kailagan naming i-address. Kapag nakalamang kami ng malaki, biglang nagre-relax yung opensa namin. Nire-remind kami lagi ni coach. Kailangan namin i-work out yun,” said Fajardo, who finished with 24 points and 16 rebounds in a losing effort
“Wala na yun. Yung referee, table official, sila ang may nakakaalam. Kung counted yun, counted yun. Kailangan mag-move on,” added Fajardo.
In SMB’s final possession during Game 1 last Sunday, Fajardo was defended well by Kelly Williams and was forced to kick the ball out to CJ Perez.
Perez, however, threw a three-pointer that went air-ball, and the Beermen were called for a 24-second shot clock violation, setting up Castro’s game-winner with three seconds to go.
“In the end, it’s great that Jayson made the shot but it was better that we gave ourselves a chance when we forced San Miguel to a 24-second violation. That was the key,” recalled Reyes during the post-game conference.
Meanwhile, Kevin Alas of NLEX remains as the leading scorer in the PBA Philippine Cup playoffs three weeks after the Road Warriors bowed out in the quarterfinals.
Alas averaged 23.5 points in the two games he played in NLEX’s 1-2 loss to Magnolia.
Scottie Thompson of Ginebra is second with 22 markers in three matches.
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:45 p.m. — TNT vs. SanMiguel
Game 1 — TNT 86, San Miguel 84.