The San Miguel Beermen were in a do-or-die situation heading into Game 6 of the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup Finals and responded like the multi-time champions that they are with a dominant 114-96 victory over the TNT Tropang Giga.
San Miguel’s win has forced a winner-take-all Game 7 that will be a fitting culmination to this competitive series. While the final score was lopsided, the match was not without a few tense moments for the Beermen.
San Miguel initially charged out of the gates with a 40-point first quarter that was highlighted by a combined 23 points from veteran sharpshooter Marcio Lassiter and Best Player of the Conference runner-up CJ Perez.
Reserve guard Simon Enciso then took over in the second quarter where he scored 17 of his 20 points. Behind Enciso’s inspired play, San Miguel extended the 16-point lead that it held at the end of the first period to a high of 26 points, 56-36, with seven minutes remaining in the opening half. The evening looked like a wrap for the Beermen, but RR Pogoy put on a one-man charge and rallied TNT back into the match.
Pogoy’s hot shooting cut San Miguel’s lead to 13, 63-50, heading into halftime and had them within nine points by the first few minutes of the third quarter. The Beermen led the Tropang Giga, 67-58, barely four minutes into the second half when Pogoy hit a three-pointer that was ultimately called off due to a shot clock violation.
If it counted, that triple would have brought San Miguel’s lead down to six. However, that break in TNT’s momentum was enough to swing the tide in favor of the Beermen. They responded with a 25-10 run to close out the third period with a 92-68 advantage and the fourth quarter was all but a formality.
The eight-time PBA champion Lassiter led San Miguel with 22 points, six three pointers, two rebounds, two assists, and a steal. Perez added 20 points, three triples on as many attempts, four rebounds, three assists, and a block while the Best Player of the Conference and six-time PBA Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo contributed 10 points, 12 rebounds, five assists, a block, and no turnovers.
The biggest difference-maker for the Beermen though was their bench. Enciso finished with 20 points after his phenomenal second quarter and was supported by Mo Tautuaa and Jericho Cruz who scored 15 and 11 points, respectively.
Meanwhile, the Tropang Giga were unable to give Pogoy, their most consistent player in this series, any semblance of support on a night when they needed it the most. With Jayson Castro and Glenn Khobuntin sidelined with injuries, TNT needed its remaining players to step up, yet they were instead overwhelmed by San Miguel’s depth.
Pogoy, the sole bright spot for the Tropang Giga, entered Game 6 averaging 22 points per game in these PBA Philippine Cup Finals and outdid himself with 31 points, three rebounds, a steal, and a block.
The prolific Mikey Williams, last year’s PBA Philippine Cup Finals Most Valuable Player, was limited to a career-low two points on one-of-13 field goal shooting.
Their next highest scorer from their regular rotation was Troy Rosario who had 10 points. Jaydee Tungcab added 12 points, though they came when the game was out of reach in the fourth period.
Game 7 is fast approaching (September 4, 6 pm Manila time) and TNT will have to bounce back from this disappointing showing if they are to defend their title against these thirsty Beermen who are raring to end a three-year title drought.