• San Miguel, TNT dispute finals berth

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    San Miguel Beer’s Marcio Lassiter looking for teammates as Talk ‘N Text’s Harvey Carey and Larry Fonacier display tremendous defense during the Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup semifinals.
    BOB DUNGO JR.

    Defending champion San Miguel Beer and TNT KaTropa clash in the winner-take-all Game 7 of their best-of-seven semifinals series of Philippine Basketball Association Season 42 Philippine Cup on Monday at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City.

    The winner in their 7 p.m. encounter advances to the finals.

    The Beermen’s three-peat bid remains alive after scoring a 104-88 win in Game 6 last Saturday and head coach Leo Austria of the Beermen hopes his wards can sustain that kind of performance to reach their third straight Philippine Cup finals appearance.

    “I’m hoping we can repeat that kind of performance in Game 7, but definitely I’m expecting a war on Monday,” said Austria.

    “They (KaTropa) are equally talented team and I really expected this series would go to Game 7.”

    Three-time Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo, who finished with 23 points and 21 rebounds plus four blocks in Game 6, said they need to bring their best game to have better chance of winning Game 7.

    “We are already here (Game 7) and we cannot let this opportunity to slip away,” Fajardo said in Filipino.

    TNT coach Nash Racela rued the team’s awful fourth quarter performance as the KaTropa were outscored by the Beermen, 19-34, to yield the victory.

    Now, Racela hopes that can make the necessary adjustments to deny San Miguel of defending its Philippine Cup crown.

    “I think it was a very well-officiated ballgame and we want to deal with this defeat professionally,” Racela said.

    “So, we go back to the drawing boards, review, and make our adjustments. We expect both teams to go all out regardless of who’s available or not,” he added.

    Jayson Castro hurt his leg in Game 6 and is not sure if he will be 100 percent ready in the rubbermatch. Troy Rosario missed Game 6 after tying the knot with his long-time partner Michelle Anne Aguas.

    Rosario is expected to be back in the crucial Game 7 and helps the team’s cause.

    “We are still confident of beating them. We are just going to adjust,” said Castro, who had 19 points in Game 6.

    “I still don’t know yet [about the injury]but I feel okay. I believe this is just a minor injury that I need to rest,” Castro added.

    A win by San Miguel, the remaining original member team of the PBA when it opened shop in 1975, will put the franchise to its 37th finals appearance. If TNT prevails, it will be the franchise’s 18th overall since entering the league in 1996.

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