Shorthanded TNT takes on unbeaten SMB

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By Ivan Saldajeno

MANILA—TNT got the biggest hit in the Gilas "SEABA 12" call-up with three players chosen to the national squad.

[Related Story: Back-to-back All-Star MVP Wright, longtime Nationals highlight Gilas' "SEABA 12"]

Now, the KaTropa will have to face their toughest opponents in their PBA Commissioner's Cup campaign without their Gilas representatives.

TNT, minus Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, and RR Pogoy, takes on conference-leading San Miguel in the main game of the doubleheader at the Smart Araneta Coliseum in Quezon City on Friday night.

With a twice-to-beat advantage in the quarterfinals as their main goal, the KaTropa need to beat the Beermen in their 7 p.m. meeting to boost their bid.

But with Castro, Rosario, and Pogoy having to spend their Friday at the Gilas practice, they are in for a tough mission against the still undefeated Beermen.

However, SMB also has one Gilas guy out in June Mar Fajardo, leaving import Charles Rhodes at his lonesome in manning the paint.

Still, the game still has some fireworks as this will be the first time the two teams lock horns since an April 24 trade between Matt Rosser and RR Garcia.

[Related Story: Rosser to SMB, Garcia to TNT in rare trade between flagship clubs]

In the first game at 4:15 p.m., GlobalPort and Phoenix, two teams with one player each called up to the SEABA 12 as well, collide.

With Terrence Romeo and Matt Wright not playing, the Batang Pier and the Fuel Masters clash to keep their playoff bids in check.

Follow him on Twitter: @IvanSaldajeno