(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:45 p.m. — TNT vs San Miguel
TNT Tropang Giga and San Miguel Beer seek for a pivotal 3-2 lead when they collide in Game 5 of the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup best-of-seven finals series today at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
With the series knotted, both the Tropang Giga and the Beermen are tipped to go all out in their 5:45 p.m. encounter to claim the victory that will put them on the brink of the title.
Head coach Chot Reyes’ return provided a big boost to the Tropang Giga as he steered them to a masterful 100-87 Game 4 win on Sunday after missing two games to guide Gilas Pilipinas in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers last week.
Aside from saving themselves from falling into a dangerous 1-3 hole, TNT also registered an all-time low of just three turnovers en route to a lopsided victory.
Jayson Castro led the scoring parade with an all-around game of 26 points, six rebounds, four assists and three steals, followed by Roger Pogoy’s 21-point explosion paired with three boards.
Mikey Williams wound up 16 markers albeit 6-of-21 shooting, and Kelly Williams churned out 14 markers and seven boards.
“We told ourselves that it’s a must-win for us. It would’ve been a more difficult game against San Miguel if we went 1-3,” Castro said.
“We gave ourselves a chance to tie the game. The players themselves have always been talking about different ways to contribute.”
The presence of the embattled Reyes will also be of big help as he recently led Gilas Pilipinas to a lopsided 84-46 win over Saudi Arabia in the fourth window of the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers on Monday.
“It’s a big help that he’s here with us, he gives us the motivation and corrects us whenever our execution goes wrong,” Castro said.
But San Miguel is eager to steal the momentum.
Despite winning two straight games and with June Mar Fajardo capturing the Best Player of the Conference, the Beermen struggled offensively and wasted their chance to push a commanding lead
In fact, the Tropang Giga forced them to only 36 points at the half, the lowest Finals output since the 2020 Philippine Cup.
Fajardo led San Miguel’s offense with 20 points and 19 rebounds, just a board shy from what could’ve been his second 20-20 game in the league.