PBA: 'Kahit isa lang' -- TNT's Pogoy finally gets one over SMB

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 18 2021 01:29 PM

TNT's Roger Pogoy attacks the defense of San Miguel's Von Pessumal. PBA Media Bureau
TNT's Roger Pogoy attacks the defense of San Miguel's Von Pessumal. PBA Media Bureau

MANILA, Philippines -- There was plenty of motivation for TNT guard Roger Pogoy heading into Game 7 of their 2021 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal series against San Miguel.

For one, the Tropang GIGA were determined to make it back to the All-Filipino finals after falling short last year, as they lost to Barangay Ginebra in five games in the championship series.

Pogoy was also personally determined to make up for a poor performance in their 103-90 loss in Game 6, where he scored just six points on 2-of-10 shooting from the field. He had become a barometer for TNT in the last four games of the series, as he was limited to single digits in their blowout losses in Games 4 and 6 but played well in the games that they won.

"Pangit talaga 'yung laro niya," TNT coach Chot Reyes had said when asked about Pogoy's subpar play in Game 6.

Pogoy's response in Game 7 was to return to his roots -- to focus on the defensive end, and let the offense come to him. 

"Sinasabihan ako ni coach na hindi ako mag-focus sa offense ko. Kasi 'yun nga, dati kinukuha niya ako sa Gilas dahil sa depensa ko," he noted.

"Tapos 'yung offense, susunod lang daw 'yan. So 'yun, focus ko, depensa lang talaga kay Terrence (Romeo), kay Marcio (Lassiter). Blessed lang talaga na dumating din 'yung offense ko," Pogoy added.

The result? Pogoy played his best game when TNT needed it most, as he scored a conference-best 27 points on 10-of-19 shooting. A bulk of his points came in the second half, when he sparked the Tropang GIGA's breakaway en route to a 97-79 victory.

The win sent them to PBA Philippine Cup finals for the second season in a row, and also allowed them to eliminate San Miguel -- a team that has become somewhat of a bogeyman for the Tropang GIGA in recent seasons.

"Sa totoo lang, sa five years ko sa PBA, palagi kaming natatalo talaga sa mga playoffs sa San Miguel," Pogoy recalled.

Since he was drafted by TNT in 2016, Pogoy and the Tropang GIGA have played San Miguel six times in the playoffs -- and lost each time. Among these were defeats in the finals of the 2017 and 2019 Commissioner's Cups.

Their loss in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup was particularly painful, as TNT was highly favored after posting a 10-1 record in the elimination round and featuring a powerful import in Terrence Jones.

But they lost to San Miguel in six games, with Pogoy scoring 13 points in a season-ending 102-90 defeat.

"Motivated talaga ako ngayon na sana man lang, kahit isa lang, kahit ngayon, makabawi kami. So, sobrang daming motivation talaga in coming to this game," said Pogoy.

Having gotten past Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals and San Miguel in the semifinals, Pogoy and the Tropang GIGA will now try to overcome the Magnolia Hotshots in the best-of-seven championship series.

They are looking to win their first title since the 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup, and their first All-Filipino crown since the 2012-13 season.

"Sobrang saya," Pogoy said of the opportunity they now have. "'Yun nga, sabi ni coach na lahat kami, ang hinihingi lang namin, isang chance lang. So, kung may chance kami, i-grab talaga namin, hindi namin pakakawalan. 'Yun nga, sabi palagi sa amin ni coach."