MANILA (UPDATED) - The TNT Tropang GIGA are back in the finals of the PBA Philippine Cup after an impressive 97-79 victory over San Miguel Beer, Sunday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
In a series where the two teams alternated victories, it was TNT that emerged the winner after overpowering the Beermen in Game 7 behind their stifling defense and hot three-point shooting.
Roger Pogoy was superb in the decider, firing 27 points, while rookie star Mikey Williams had 20 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. TNT, as a team, made 12 of their 26 three-point attempts and limited SMB to just 32 percent shooting from the field.
"They came in with great resolve," TNT coach Chot Reyes said of his players. "They put in all the effort, they were the ones who executed, made the shots, made the defensive stops."
Pogoy, who earned Player of the Game honors, was delighted to have exacted some measure of revenge against San Miguel. TNT had been on the losing end of their last seven playoff series, including a 4-2 loss to the Beermen in the finals of the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
"Sa totoo lang, sa five years ko sa PBA, palagi kaming natatalo talaga sa mga playoffs sa San Miguel. So motivated talaga ako ngayon na sana man lang, kahit isa lang, kahit ngayon, makabawi kami," said Pogoy.
TNT had to recover from a slow start that saw them trail 23-15 after the first quarter, as San Miguel opened the game making five of their 11 attempts from beyond the arc.
But the Tropang GIGA turned things around in the second period, wherein they outscored San Miguel 30-13 for a 45-36 halftime lead. They stayed firmly in control from that point on, with Pogoy firing 10 points in the third quarter to help TNT fend off SMB's comeback attempts.
They completely took over in the fourth quarter, with the lead reaching a high of 26 points, 97-71, off a Poy Erram putback after a missed layup by Pogoy.
Six-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo carried the load for San Miguel with 22 points and 16 rebounds, while Chris Ross had 15 points and 11 boards. But the Beermen's chances were dented when Moala Tautuaa and Terrence Romeo exited with injuries in the third quarter; neither would return to the game.
Tautuaa had two points and a rebound when he was subbed off for good with 2:08 left in the third quarter, having been struggling since the opening period. Romeo left the game at the same time, having scored nine points in 16 minutes.
"It was a great privilege for me to coach against a team such as San Miguel. They're deep, they're talented, they're well-coached," said Reyes. "If there were a Game 8, I'm sure they would come back with another adjustment and then kick our butts again."
TNT will play the Magnolia Hotshots in a best-of-seven series for the 2021 All-Filipino crown.
It marks the second straight finals appearance for the Tropang GIGA, who are searching for their first PBA championship since the 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup, and their first All-Filipino crown since the 2012-13 season.
Last year, in the bubble in Clark, Pampanga, the Tropang GIGA bowed to Barangay Ginebra in five games.
The Scores :
TNT 97 – Pogoy 27, M.Williams 20, Rosario 12, K. Williams 11, Erram 9, Reyes 7, Castro 6, Heruela 3, Khobuntin 2, Montalbo 0, Exciminiano 0, Marcelo 0
SAN MIGUEL 79 – Fajardo 22, Ross 15, Perez 11, Romeo 9, Santos 9, Pessumal 8, Cabagnot 3, Tautuaa 2, Lassiter 0, Sena 0, Zamar 0, Comboy 0
Quarters: 15-23, 45-36, 67-55, 97-79.