Forcing a 2-all deadlock in their best-of-seven semifinal series was a big step for San Miguel Beer.
Taking a 3-2 lead in Game 5 will now be the next challenge for the Beermen when they clash with the TNT Tropang Giga at 6 p.m. today in the Philippine Basketball Association Philippine Cup semifinal series at the Don Honorio Ventura State University gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Meanwhile, the Magnolia Hotshots shoot for a berth in the finals when they clash with the Meralco Bolts at 3 p.m. The Hotshots have a 3-1 lead after an 81-69 beating of Meralco in Game 4 last Sunday.
SMB coach Leo Austria said the team knows that they need to work hard to avoid getting into difficult situations again in the semis.
“Winning the game was a big step for them (Beermen). From start to finish, they played hard defense,” said Austria after they came away with a 116-90 demolition of TNT last Sunday.
In Game 4, the Beermen strived to play good basketball the entire time and limited themselves to 18 errors.
On the other hand, the Tropang Giga continued to struggle and adjust to the absence of Kelly Williams. Compounding their woes, another key player in Poy Erram left the court and was hospitalized following an accident early in the second quarter.
The fate of the 6’8” Erram remained uncertain after he sustained what could be a fracture on his cheekbone as he got hurt after Beerman Moala Tautuaa landed on him during a mishap.
Williams, the 2008 MVP, who has been sitting out due to the league’s health and safety protocols, is expected to return after missing games since the start of the second round of the playoffs.
And with Williams expected comeback, Austria said the team can’t relax now that they have a chance to grab another win in the series.
“They (players) know that if you lose, it will be very hard to recover. They know they’re up against an organized team like TNT,” added Austria.
The Tropang Giga felt the absence of Williams in the series, where he averages 18.4 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game.
Without Williams, much of the team’s workload fell on the shoulders of RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario, who averages 12.55 and 12.73 points, respectively.
On the other hand, most the load in the Beermen’s efforts is usually distributed among Terrence Romeo, CJ Perez, Arwind Santos, Marcio Lassiter, JuneMar Fajardo and Tautuaa
The last time around, Tautuaa led the team with 25 points and nine rebounds, while Romeo, Cabagnot, Lassiter, Fajardo, Santos and Perez all contributed in double digits.