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PBA 'Clash of Titans' unfolds.

PBA 'Clash of Titans' unfolds !-- -- Olmin Leyba (The Philippine Star) - August 4, 2019 - 12:00am MANILA, Philippines With TNT KaTropa and San Miguel Beer on opposite ends, this PBA Commissioner's Cup finals series has a "Clash of the Titans" feel all over it. It's powerhouse versus powerhouse.

The tournament juggernaut against the winningest of all time. Super import Terrence Jones in a faceoff with fellow super import Chris McCullough.

A resurgent team out to regain lost glory in a battle with a proud side deadset on keeping its winning tradition. And fans need not wait long as the top-seeded KaTropa and the playoff-savvy Beermen hit the court tonight, ready to strike the first blow in the race-to-four mega duel for the mid-season tournament plum.

"This will be the toughest championship series for us," said SMB coach Leo Austria ahead of the 6:30 p.m.

opening salvo at the Smart Araneta Coliseum. Austria, who steered the Beermen to seven championships since 2014, has valid reasons to say so.

"They're really playing at the highest level. They've transformed their team into a championship caliber team," he said of TNT, which disposed of 2018 champ Barangay Ginebra, 3-1, to take the first finals seat.

"It's hard to stop Jones and their resurgent locals who have embraced what type of game he offers. We can see that theyhave camarederie, that everybody's on the same page," said Austria.

The Katropa are only in their first championship appearance since 2017. And coach Bong Ravena feels this could be a disadvantage against the seasoned Beermen, who just won their fifth straight Philippine Cup diadem and 26th overall last May. "We'll try to take all our chances to compete with them for they are the most experienced team in the league playing in the finals," said Ravena.

The KaTropa aim to make the most of their best chance to end years of futility and cop the crown they last won in the 2015 edition. "Personally, I think it's time for another championship.

It's been a while since we became champions and at the same time, the young guys want to prove themselves as winners. It's TNT's goal to bring us back to where we were before (as a champion team)," said TNT veteran Jayson Castro.

This will only be the fifth finals showdown between TNT and SMB, with the Beermen winning three of the four previous duels, including the 2017 Commissioner's Cup, 4-2. In 17 playoff series meetings overall, SMB has won 13, the last six under Austria. This is something that Austria expects to further motivate their rivals.

"Most of the time we beat them in the playoffs so I think that (revenge) will be one of their battlecries," he said. Jones, who's up for an interesting matchup with fellow ex-NBA player McCullough, relishes the opportunity to bring gold to the PLDT franchise.

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Publication:Philippines Star (Manila, Philippines)
Date:Aug 3, 2019
Words:567
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