TnT, San Miguel in key Game Three battle; Magnolia goes for 3-0 lead

THE TnT Tropang Giga and San Miguel Beermen, currently tied at 1-1 in their PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven semis series, go for the upper hand when they collide in Game Three on Friday at 6 p.m. — PBA IMAGES

Michael Angelo S. Murillo,

Senior Reporter

PIVOTAL Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup Game Three semifinal action takes place on Friday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University (DHVSU) Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The TnT Tropang Giga and San Miguel Beermen, currently tied at 1-1 in their Philippine Basketball Association best-of-seven semis series, go for the upper hand when they collide in the scheduled 6 p.m. contest while the Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots shoot for a commanding 3-0 lead in their own series with the Meralco Bolts in the 3 p.m. match.

San Miguel successfully came from behind and took Game Two, 98-96, from TnT on Wednesday, punctuated by the game-winning putback by Marcio Lassiter.

The win thrusted the Beermen to leveling the series and reducing their semifinal joust to a race-to-three wins.

TnT was in control of the contest for much of the time, even holding a 19-point lead, 80-61, at one point.

But the Beermen were undeterred, and led by Terrence Romeo they made a ferocious comeback in the fourth quarter.

Off a time out with six seconds left to play, and the count knotted at 96-all, the Beermen went to June Mar Fajardo, but his attempt to the basket was defended well by the TnT defense.

Arwind Santos got to tip the ball to the direction of the basket, but also missed to connect before Mr. Lassiter grabbed the rebound and drained the putback as the seconds ticked away.

“We were drained physically, but the players just would not quit. It’s pure heart and determination,” said San Miguel coach Leo Austria in the postgame press conference, describing the efforts of his team.

For TnT, while it lamented not being able to complete the win that would have pushed it to a 2-0 lead, it is moving on, looking to correct its mistakes and get better for the rest of the series.


Meanwhile, Magnolia tries to push Meralco to the brink of elimination in their grind-it-out matchup.

The Hotshots fortified their hold of the series after winning Game Two, 92-78, also on Wednesday to go up 2-0.

Paul Lee starred for Magnolia in the win, finishing with 28 points, going 5-of-9 from beyond the arc. Ian Sangalang and Calvin Abueva also came up big, finishing with a double-double each.

It was a close match for the first three quarters until the Hotshots made their move in the fourth, creating a considerable distance from the Bolts and never looking back.

They may be ahead in the series, but the Hotshots are not getting ahead of themselves.

“We’re not claiming anything yet. It’s one game at a time for us. We’re going to prepare for the next game,” said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero.

Meralco big man Raymond Almazan was not able to finish Game Two after injuring his left ankle. His status for Game Three is still to be determined.