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PBA: SMB, TNT clash in Iloilo

Game Today
(San Agustin Gym, Iloilo City)
5 p.m. – San Miguel vs TNT KaTropa

Defending champion San Miguel will find out if a 17-day break would be beneficial or not when it battles TNT KaTropa in the PBA Philippine Cup today at the San Agustin Gym in Iloilo City.

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The unbeaten Beermen, who haven’t played since beating the Meralco Bolts last Dec. 27, hope to be in their best form against the KaTropa in the 5 p.m. game that will also mark the first out-of-town affair of the league’s 43rd season.

Coach Leo Austria is hopeful that the respite would work to San Miguel’s advantage, though they are keen on making improvements after almost losing a 22-point second quarter lead against Meralco before holding on for a 103-97 win at the Ynares Center in Antipolo City.

“I don’t know if it’s an advantage for us or for the other teams dahil we’re already in our momentum e,” said Austria, whose win over the Bolts came after a season-opening 104-96 triumph over the Phoenix Fuel Masters last Dec. 17.

Four-time reigning Most Valuable Player June Mar Fajardo is once again expected to be the focal point on both ends as San Miguel looks to take advantage of his presence against a TNT squad that split its first two games this conference.

TNT is likewise coming off a long vacation – 15 days to be exact – after a 106-98 victory over Alaska at the Cuneta Astrodome.

“At least we got some sort of momentum before we face the best team in the league,” said KaTropa coach Nash Racela.

In that game, Mo Tautuaa had one of his best games since being taken first overall in the 2015 PBA Draft with 18 points and nine rebounds to compliment Troy Rosario’s 21 points and Jayson Castro’s 18.

Tautuaa, Rosario and Kelly Williams are tasked to do the hard part of making life miserable for Fajardo in the paint.

“We’re always ready. We come into that rectangle knowing that it’s always battle time.” said Tautuaa. “We don’t come in and think anything’s gonna be given so we always gotta stay ready and prepared. We’ll just prepare as much as we can.”

Other players expected to play major roles one of the major cities in the Western Visayas region are San Miguel’s Alex Cabagnot, Chris Ross, Arwind Santos and Marcio Lassiter and TNT’s Roger Pogoy.