The semifinals series between the Meralco Bolts and the San Miguel Beermen ends this Wednesday in a much-watch Game 7 tussle. So, who will the TNT Tropang Giga face in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup Finals? Will it be their sister team, Bolts? Or, will it be the mighty Beermen?
Catch this game live on Wednesday, August 17 at 6 pm, Manila time.
Meralco Bolts (3-3)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Aaron Black
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Allein Maliksi
- PF: Cliff Hodge
- C: Raymond Almazan
Whether you believe that Aaron Black is now a star, he definitely helped his case for being one when he took over for the Bolts in Game 6 to overcome a huge deficit down the stretch in a come-from-behind 96-92 win. That was some gritty victory for Meralco, which has made it clear that it is not going away that easily. Black finished Game 6 with 17 points, 6 assists, and 5 rebounds while committing just a single turnover in 29 minutes on the floor.
His efficiency in getting his buckets and ability to run pick-and-rolls have become major headaches for the Beermen, who will also have to find a way to slow down the Bolts’ aggressiveness. The Bolts took just 10 attempts from the charity stripe in Game 5 and went 26/32 from the foul line in Game 6, with Black, Cliff Hodge, and Chris Newsome combining for 22 made free throws.
The Bolts also were +13 in the offensive rebounding battle in Game 6, with Hodge and Almazan each pulling down five. The Bolts played desperate yet effective basketball in Game 6, and have now stolen momentum ahead of a winner-take-all Game 7 Wednesday.
San Miguel Beermen (3-3)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Chris Ross
- SG: CJ Perez
- SF: Marcio Lassiter
- PF: Rodney Brondial
- C: June Mar Fajardo
The Beermen can blame themselves for their collapse in Game 6 – or they could learn from that and flex their muscles this Wednesday. Despite the loss, Junemar Fajardo was able to put up 23 points and 13 rebounds in Game 6, while Vic Manuel and Marcio Lassiter had 16 and 14 points, respectively.
Chris Ross could have made a bigger impact defensively in the game but he dealt with foul trouble, netting five personal fouls in less than 20 minutes on the floor. With a fresh set of fouls, Ross could and should play bigger minutes in Game 7 over Simon Encisco, given his defensive prowess and plain advantage in terms of experience in playing big-time contests like this. He is still SMB’s best bet in putting the clamps on Black.
San Miguel’s depth should also play a major role Wednesday, with guys like Manuel, Jericho Cruz, Mo Tautuaa, and Rodney Brondial on the bench. At the end of the day, the Beermen will go as far as where the tandem of Fajardo and CJ Perez takes them, and that’s even though Perez struggled with his shot in Game 6 (4/17 FG). And again, the Beermen have not lost back to back in the conference.
Spread: San Miguel (-3) covers.
Over/Under: The Under (190.0) hits.