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    Fri, Sep 30
    San Miguel vs TNT PBA Philippine Cup Finals press con
    Who will win the PBA's most precious championship?
    PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño

    SAN Miguel and TNT are both expecting a challenging series in their quest for the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup crown that is set to reach fever pitch as their clash begins on Sunday at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.

    San Miguel vs TNT Finals preview

    The Beermen and the Tropang GIGA begin their best-of-seven finals affair with something to prove. San Miguel looks to return to its championship-winning ways after capturing five straight crowns from 2014 to 2019, while TNT goes for a repeat of its Philippine Cup conquest last season.

    San Miguel coach Leo Austria said the road to the title will be tough with the Beermen playing with a different roster from their ‘Death Five’ days where Arwind Santos and Alex Cabagnot were joined by June Mar Fajardo, Marcio Lassiter, and Chris Ross during their championship days.

    “Pipilitin namin pero napakahirap,” Austria said during Friday’s finals press conference. “Alam naman natin na ‘yung ‘Death Five’ namin, wala na. We are trying our best to be cohesive. Maraming bagong players. They are still learning how to be a competitive team especially playing the championship.”

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    San Miguel lorded over the conference, finishing first in the eliminations with a 9-2 win-loss record including a 115-99 victory over TNT last July 7. The Beermen still needed seven games to beat Meralco and advance to the finals.

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    Chot Reyes Leo Austria PBA Philippine Cup trophy

    “It’s already in the past. This is the finals. You can never know what will happen. As far as our team is concerned, we are playing for this trophy but it’s not going to be easy,” said Austria.

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    “Shortest, four games. Longest, seven games,” said Austria in jest as he tried to predict the outcome of the series.

    TNT coach Chot Reyes, on the other hand, said the strength of San Miguel will definitely be something that his team needs to overcome in this championship series.

    “I think the result (in the eliminations) shows the strength of the San Miguel team, how powerful they are, how deep, talented, and well-coached the team is. If we don’t play at our best level, that’s going to happen. Tambak talaga kami dito. Our only chance to be able to compete is for us to consistently play our best. If we don’t do so, that scoreline will be repeated,” said Reyes.

    The Tropang GIGA placed second at the end of the eliminations with an 8-3 win-loss record, and defeated Magnolia in six games during the semifinal phase to return to the championship.

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    “Hopefully, we can have better preparation and find ways to match the talent of the San Miguel team. Just to be here for us, it’s very special. Really an honor and privilege for us and I speak for the team. We look forward to go to battle against San Miguel,” Reyes said.

    All eyes will be on Fajardo as he looks to lead his team to the championship of the Philippine Cup once again, but CJ Perez, Jericho Cruz, and Rodney Brondial now stand as the new faces of the squad.

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      Mikey Williams, last season’s Rookie of the Year and MVP runner-up, will also be on the spotlight with his high-scoring ways set to be challenged against San Miguel.

      “Death Five Version 2, ‘yun ang kahaharapin namin,” said PLDT president and CEO Al Panlilio. “But we have to defend the crown. That’s something that we will be working on. Malaking bagay na we are in the finals. It’s going to be an exciting finals to look forward to.”

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      “I’m sure maganda talaga ‘yung series,” said San Miguel team governor Robert Non. “I expect it to reach Game Seven dahil both teams are capable of beating each other. Mahirap i-predict kung sino mananalo. ‘Yung maganda ang preparation ang magdi-dictate ng tempo ng game.”

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      Who will win the PBA's most precious championship?
      PHOTO: Jerome Ascaño
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