Game Today
(Smart Araneta Coliseum)
5:45 p.m. — TNT vs Meralco
*TNT leads series, 2-1

BREAK a tradition between two long-time rivals for the PBA Governors’ Cup crown.

That, in essence, is the main agenda as TNT seeks to bump Meralco off its familiar spot as Barangay Ginebra’s Last Dance partner with one more victory today (March 31) in Game 4 at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

The Tropang Giga go for the kill at 5:45 p.m., expecting the proud Bolts, finalists in four of the last five editions of the season-ending conference, to provide stiff resistance.

“For sure, it’s going to be a hard game, a dogfight, a battle, and whoever comes out the winner, they’re going to be bloodied,” said TNT coach Jojo Lastimosa.

While TNT and Meralco duke it out, the three-peat-seeking Gin Kings watch with interest from afar. Tim Cone’s crew is safely in the best-of-seven championship after hammering out a sweep-completing 87-85 comeback win over San Miguel Beer last Wednesday.

The Tropang Giga put themselves in a position to follow the crowd darlings into the finale after clobbering the Bolts in Game 3, 99-80.

Now comes the hard part for the tournament top seeds.

“I’ve been in situations where I played and where I was an assistant coach and the closeout game is always hard,” said Mr. Lastimosa.

“For some reason, there’s just a different feel when you’re trying to close out because we know the other team is also desperate; at the same time, we don’t want to force the issue. We’ll try to close it out and see how it goes.”

“They’re going to be aggressive just like they were in Game 2,” TNT sniper Mikey Williams said in anticipation of Meralco’s counter.

Mr. Williams, who fired 29 to backstop Rondae Hollis-Jefferson’s 40 piece last Wednesday, recalled how the Bolts cranked it up after losing the opener and responded with a 124-117 series-equalizer in Game 2 last Sunday.

For Meralco mentor Norman Black, it’s a must that KJ McDaniels and the Bolts start a lot better than they did in Game 3.

“They (TNT) were able to establish their game immediately and their import pretty much dominated the first half. We tried to make a little bit of recovery in the second half but we’re just down by too many to really get back into the game,” rued Mr. Black.

“I thought KJ was exceptional in Game 2 and he was dominating that game and Mr. Jefferson was exceptional and dominating in Game 3. So hopefully, KJ will bounce back in Game 4 and we play better as a team.” — Olmin Leyba