The PBA has returned, and this Friday, we are going to see the top two teams duke it out in Pampanga. Will TNT extend its unbeaten streak? Or, will Meralco deal its sister team its first loss of the conference?
Catch this game live on September 3 at 6:00 pm, Manila time.
The TNT Tropang Giga (4-0)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: Brain Heruela
- SG: RR Pogoy
- SF: Glenn Khobuntin
- PF: Troy Rosario
- C: Kelly Williams
TNT remains undefeated. The Tropang Giga are now 4-0 after decimating the Blackwater Elite on Wednesday, 96-76. They kicked the conference off with a win over the Terrafirma Dyip then followed that up with wins over the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters and the Phoenix Fuelmasters before the league took a pause. And TNT scored those victories despite RR Pogoy and Jayson Castro struggling mightily from behind the arc. Pogoy and Castro are shooting just 18.75% and 11.76% from deep, respectively, so far this conference.
In any case, the Tropang Giga are happy to see Troy Rosario play well again after a letdown performance in the bubble last year. This conference, Rosario has picked it up, as he averaged 14.0 points per game and 10.8 rebounds per contest prior to the temporary halt. The athleticism of Rosario and Kelly Williams could pose a big threat to Meralco’s frontline. TNT won the last meeting between these teams, as the Tropang Giga downed Meralco, 92-79, back in November 2020.
The Meralco Bolts (5-1)
Projected Starting Five:
- PG: John Pinto
- SG: Chris Newsome
- SF: Mac Belo
- PF: John Quinto
- C: Raymond Almazan
Like TNT, the Bolts also had an electrifying start to the conference. Meralco won their first two games against the NorthPort Batang Pier and the San Miguel Beermen. The Bolts got tripped up by the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters, but they quickly recovered by winning their next two assignments over Phoenix and the Alaska Aces just before the league’s schedule got suspended.
Then the Bolts pulled off a 95-94 come-from-behind win over the Magnolia Hotshots on the first day of the PBA restart in Bacolor, Pampanga.
Chris Newsome delivered the winning basket for Meralco against the Hotshots and finished with 14 points. But it was Mac Belo who led the team with 22 points. Belo’s explosion was a welcome sight for Meralco, especially after he went cold in the two contests prior to that win. Meralco is at its best when Belo and Newsome are both clicking, but don’t sleep on the team’s bench that just scored 53 points against Magnolia. The Bolts also have eight players averaging at least 6.0 PPG.
Spread: This is a different Meralco team that we are witnessing. The addition of Belo appears to be the piece that’s taking the Bolts to the next level. The Tropang Giga are undefeated but take the Bolts to cover (+3).
Over/Under: These are two teams that are in the bottom three in terms of pace, as of this writing. Take the Under (170.5).