By Crisdenmar Dela Cruz

Displaying their championship poise and gritty spirit, powerhouses TNT and San Miguel carved out easy wins on the opening day of semifinal round in the PBA Philippine Cup, Wednesday, at Smart Araneta Coliseum.

Photo Courtesy of PBA

Defending champion TNT Tropang Giga breezed past Magnolia Chicken Timplados, 108-96, as reigning scoring champion Mikey Williams put on another spectacular performance unleashing 18 markers in the first half. 

The Tropang Giga guards set the tone early as they punished Chicken Timplados beyond the arc, courtesy of M. Williams, Jayson Castro, RR Pogoy, and Kib Montalbo en route to a 54-37 halftime lead. 

‘SUPERmore’ sophomore M. Williams waxed hot with 26 points, including four triples, while Pogoy and Castro had 23 and 12 markers, respectively. 

The biggest difference of this match was Glenn Khobuntin, who led his team in scoring in the second half and sparked 18 points off the bench. 

‘The beast’ Calvin Abueva felt his presence in the final frame, finishing with 18 markers, Ian Sangalang, Aris Dionisio, and Gio Jalalon added 14 points apiece, while James Laput contributed 12 markers in the losing effort.

The San Miguel Beermen, on the other side, got off to a quick start and never looked back, routing victory over the Meralco Bolts 121–97.

Beermen continued its resurgence in Philippine Cup as CJ Perez fueled a first-quarter breakaway that lifted the red and white team to a 33-17 lead before SMB withstood Bolts. 

Perez rifled 18 of his 25 markers in the first half, Rodney Brondial contributed a career-high 20 points to go along with 11 boards, while ‘the muscleman’ Vic Manuel chalked up 16 points before exiting with a finger injury. 

Six-time MVP June Mar Fajardo made sure that his presence in the paint was enough to seal the first game of the best of seven series, finishing with 11 markers, six boards, and five assists. 

Chris Newsome and Aaron Black, who led the Meralco in eliminating Ginebra, were shut down to just nine and eight points, credit to hefty defense by Perez and Jericho Cruz.

Chris Banchero top-scored for the Bolts with 17 markers, while Raymond Almazan churned out 16.

On Friday, game 2 of both series will be played.

Edited by Quian Vencel Galut