Aug 19, 2022

TNT-SMB all-Filipino finale: Rebanse

In Pinoy street parlance, it's called "rebanse."

Less than a year after their slambang 2021 PBA Philippine Cup semifinal showdown, TNT and San Miguel Beer duke it out in a rematch -- this time to fight for the ultimate glory in the league's centerpiece tourney.

Going all the way to win the crown the last time, the Tropang Giga target back-to-back while the Beermen eye a return to the throne as they begin a best-of-seven title face-off Sunday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

They have had a previous championship playoff in the all-Filipino tourney in the 2010-11 campaign with the MVP Group flagship franchise winning over its SMC counterpart in six games.

But that was eons ago or many conferences before the June Mar Fajardo era.
The score to settle was their Season 46 Philippine Cup semis dispute.
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The date was Oct. 17, 2021 in the Bacolor bubble when TNT went on a hot shooting spree in a deciding Game 7 tiff, gunning down the Beermen, 97-79, to advance to a finals duel with Magnolia and subsequently mark its own return to the throne, ending long years of drought.

RR Pogoy rifled in four treys to highlight a 27-point game and then super rookie Mikee Williams tossed in three triples and a total of 20 markers as the Tropa roared to the finals while quashing the Beermen's bid for return to the PBA finale since the last of their title runs in the 2019 Commissioner's Cup.

"Sa five years ko sa PBA, palagi kaming natatalo sa playoffs sa San Miguel. So going into the game, sobrang motivated talaga ako na makabawi sa kanila," said Pogoy then.

Coach Chot Reyes, meanwhile, said a change of mindset helped the Tropa get ready for the decider against SMB which was 4-0 in previous winner-take-all seventh games then.

"I told them let's look forward to Game 7, let's not dread going to Game 7. I thought that's the most important thing when we shifted thinking and the players thought in and believed," said TNT coach Chot Reyes.
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"In the end, I thought that's what happened. They came in with great resolve," Reyes added.

But now comes the rematch.

The Tropang Giga look to run a streak of all-Filipino championships again as they have done with three straight title runs from 2011.

The Beermen, meanwhile, aim for payback as they try to assert the power of their new deadly core in June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, Chris Ross, CJ Perez, Moala Tautuaa, Vic Manuel, Jericho Cruz, Rodney Brondial and Simon Enciso.

It's either title repeat for TNT or sweet fightback for SMB. (SB)