TNT, Meralco brace for EASL Final Four battle

TNT, Meralco brace for EASL Final Four battle

THEIR Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Commissioner’s Cup campaign is over but TNT and Meralco still have unfinished business in the East Asia Super League (EASL).

The TNT Tropang Giga and the Meralco Bolts, the country’s representatives in the Continental league, have their work cut out in trying to make it to the Final Four there.

The two MVP Group squads carry identical 1-4 records with TNT running third in Group A behind Japan’s Chiba (6-0) and Korea’s Anyang (2-2) and Meralco at fourth behind New Taipei Kings (4-0), Seoul SK (2-2) and Japan’s Ryukyu (2-3).

They need to seize victory in their final group games but they would have to depend on others to keep the door to the semis open.

For the TNT Tropang Giga, they have to win big against the Anyang in their home game at the PhilSports Arena tomorrow to stay alive. Then they would root for fourth-running Taipei Fubon Braves (1-4) to beat Anyang on the final day to forge a three-way tie and hope to emerge on top after tiebreaker for the second seat to the semis.

It’s more complicated for the Meralco Bolts, who need semis-bound New Taipei to defeat Ryukyu and Seoul to keep them in the mix then to draw level at 2-4, chalk up an away win against Seoul on Feb. 7. Even then, Meralco still needs to finish with the biggest points difference to possibly salvage a semis ticket.

TNT team manager Jojo Lastimosa underscored the importance of reaching the EASL post-season. “Qualifying for the EASL Final Four would be a tremendous achievement for our team. It’s a testament to the determination, and resilience of our players, coaching staff, and the entire organization,” he said. “This is a goal we’ve been working towards since the beginning of the season, and securing a spot in the Final Four would not only elevate the profile of TNT on the international stage but also bring immense pride to our fans and supporters back home.”

TNT seeks this objective a week after bowing out of the PBA’s season-opening tournament on account of 94-109 quarterfinal loss to top seed and twice-to-beat Magnolia.

Meralco followed TNT to the exits after yielding an 84-88 setback to No. 4 Phoenix in the rubbermatch for a semis spot. — Olmin Leyba