TNT is one series win away from the PBA Philippine Cup title, and standing on its way is another San Miguel Corporation team.
The flagship franchise of the MVP Group has a chance to beat all three SMC teams in a single playoff run after thwarting Barangay Ginebra and San Miguel as it tangles with Magnolia in a best-of-seven finals.
“Any road to the title, you have to go through those three tough teams,” said coach Chot Reyes after TNT clobbered San Miguel in Game 7 of their semifinals series to book the last finals spot.
SMC teams have dominated the PBA for the last eight years.
Eighteen of the last 20 championships have been shared by San Miguel, Ginebra, and Magnolia, with TNT and Rain or Shine being the only other teams to win a title during that span.
TNT last won a championship in 2015 and has fallen short of the grand prize since as SMC teams proved to be an impenetrable forces.
In fact, TNT settled for runner-up finishes in the 2017 and 2019 Commissioner’s Cup after falling prey to San Miguel, and in the 2020 Philippine Cup after succumbing to Ginebra.
Reyes, though, felt it is only a coincidence that TNT has to go through all SMC teams as the franchise chases its first PBA title in six years.
“Nobody would have ever expected Ginebra to be No. 8 in the eliminations, right? So it was just coincidence,” said Reyes, who led TNT to the top seed in just his first conference back with the team after a near-decade-long hiatus.
“But, it was never, you know, we knew we had to get by the three if we are to get to the championship. But the fact that it is happening, that was really the luck of the draw or the situation,” he said.
“I do not think you can recall another time in the past where San Miguel was No. 4 and Ginebra was No. 8 in the eliminations.”
As TNT braces for the finals, Reyes has his fingers crossed that what they went through against Ginebra and San Miguel will turn out beneficial against Magnolia in their quest to end their championship drought.
“Hopefully, that experience makes us better and makes us better prepared for this last series,” Reyes said. – Rappler.com