BY making the clutch plays that mattered in two straight endgames Ginebra has stacked the odds in its favor against TNT in their PBA Philippine Cup championship series.
Coach Tim Cone and the Kings want nothing more than to pad their chances of success even more when they gun for a commanding 3-0 lead today in the best-of-seven match-up at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City.
According to league chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III, 42 out of the 51 teams that have taken a 2-0 lead in a race-to-four series ultimately won it all while all but one of 17 teams that have raced to a 3-0 lead were rewarded with the title.
Even better for the Kings, they have gone a perfect 4-0 when leading by 2-0.
But Cone would not be so easily lulled. “We know… that we have to find the best of ourselves to continue to win games in this series,” he said on the eve of the match. “Otherwise, the tide could turn very quickly.”
TNT also has a bit of history on its side, however, as the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned franchise has never been down 0-3 in its previous finals appearances.
Coach Bong Ravena maintained tonight’s game should showcase the Tropang Giga’s ability to regroup.
“To be honest, siyempre mababa ang morale niyan. But it’s up to us coaches to motivate them. Sila din, tulungan din sila on how to go over this hump,” Ravena said moments after their 90-92 setback in Game 2 last Wednesday, a defeat that came on the heels of a 94-100 overtime loss in the opener.
“‘Yun ang kailangang gawin, kailangan malagpasan ‘yung adversity if you want to be great,” added Ravena. “Mahaharap mo yan, frustrations, failures. So kailangan laban ka lang sa sarili mo, gawin mo lang lahat ng tama.”
The series, Ravena addded, should have been tied at one game apiece had the Tropang Giga not let their guard down in the stretch.
“OK naman na sana, but we were outsmarted by them. Andun naman lahat, effort, play hard,” Ravena pointed out.
Like in the opener, Ginebra proved steadier anew with Scottie Thompson booming in the go-ahead corner 3, for his lone basket of the game, and LA Tenorio scoring all his five points off charities, the last pair pegging a 92-87 count, only ticks left.
What really crushed TNT’s hopes of taking home the game it dominated for the most part was Jayson Castro’s attempt at snatching back the lead for the team after Thompson’s shot made it an 87-85 game for Ginebra.
Coming off a timeout and with only eight seconds gone on the shotclock, Castro launched his jumper from beyond the arc–and missed, making him 0-for-6 from deep for the game.
“Bottom line is, we have to play smarter than them,” said Ravena.
Ray Parks sat out Game 2 due to a calf strain but the Tropa still managed to play competitive and even outplayed the Kings for most of the game.
“Andun pa rin naman kami kahit wala siya. Lamang na nga kami. Lumalamang na nga kami,” said Ravena. “It’s just that we have to finish strong.”