THERE are good and bad news for TNT in its PBA Philippine Cup championship duel with Ginebra at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Gym in Angeles City.
The Tropang Giga’s 88-67 win over the Kings last Friday ensured that Bobby Ray Parks Jr. would have more time to heal his left calf strain.
“At least, may additional day siya para mas mapagaling ‘yung injury niya kasi ngayon at least may Game 5,” said TNT coach Bong Ravena, referring to his top player who has sat out the last two games of the finals.
“Actually, he was ready to go last game pa but we decided to just let him sit it out dahil hindi naman kinailangan,” added Ravena. “What his injury needs is rest so if we can buy him more time mas maganda para sa kanya.”
It is also an undeniable fact that the lopsided loss did nothing to dent the Kings’ morale. In fact, it should act as additional motivation for them to go all-out for the remainder of the match-up, starting with last night’s Game 4.
“In a series, there are no ‘pogi points’ for blowing a team out. You don’t get an extra win blowing a team out. You just get a win,” Ginebra coach Tim Cone pointed out.
“We’re not here to win a game, and I tell the players that all the time. We’re here not to win a game, we’re here to win a series,” added Cone.
“We’re still in control of this series. They broke whatever little momentum we have and we’ll see if we could get it back.”
TNT should at least prevent that, according to Ravena, if his team continues doing what it did so well in Game 3, which was to clamp down on Stanley Pringle and stay poised when Ginebra made a run.
“Last game (2), we led by 15, then wala, natalo pa kami,” said Ravena.
“Dito naman, we have to protect our lead. Alam naman namin ang capabilities of Ginebra.
We have to be consistent on defense. Hindi lang namin napa-score si Stanley, malaking bagay na agad iyon.”
Against a defense anchored on Simon Enciso, Pringle was limited to just 11 points, 18 below his finals average, on a 4-of-14 field shooting last Friday. As a team, Ginebra shot just 23-of-65 and committed 23 turnovers.
Despite Parks’ absence, offense proved to be of little concern for the Tropa as Roger Pogoy, Jayson Castro, Troy Rosario, Enciso and Poy Erram each finished with at least 12 points to lead a team that went 36-of-84 from the floor.
Particularly pleasing Ravena were the performances of Castro, Erram and Rosario.
Castro atoned for letting his team down with a missed three-point try in the endgame of a 90-92 Game 2 loss by finishing with 15 points and 10 assists on top of four rebounds and two steals.
“Alam naming babawi ‘yan kasi previous game, he was not hitting his shots,” Ravena said of Castro.
“Alam namin na siya ang leader ng team. Willing talaga siya. He facilitates, he will do everything, not only offensively,” added Ravena. “Nandiyan lang talaga siya, leading the team.”
Rosario had 15 points on a very efficient 7-of-9 shooting from the field on top of three rebounds, two blocks, and a steal, while Erram notched a double-double of 12 markers and 14 boards, along with three dimes and two swats.
Those impressive showings were a vast departure from what Rosario displayed in the series’ first two games, when he scored just a total of 19 points after shooting just 7-of-17 from the floor.
Erram actually averaged 10.5 points and 10.5 rebounds after Games 1 and 2, but he struggled with foul trouble each time, limiting his on-court minutes
“I’m glad that Poy, especially Troy, lumabas ‘yung laro nila. Hopefully, madala nila ‘yan all throughout the series,” said Ravena after Game 3.
Ravena admitted that pressure may have crept up on his two main big men and he could not be prouder to see how they handled it in the important game.
“Troy and Erram, ever since, talagang binibigay namin lahat ng kumpiyansa sa kanila.
Ngayon lang lumabas (laro nila), which is very important. ‘Yan naman ‘yung kailangan.
Especially in this series, kailangan talaga sila,” said Ravena.
“Siguro ‘yung sense of urgency namin. ‘Yung down kami 0-2, ang hirap nang isipin. Pero kailangan lumaban,” Rosario said, before waxing philosophical.
“Gaya ng taon na ‘to, nagsimula tayo sa mahirap, ang daming struggles. Gaya rin ng bubble na ‘to, bago tayo makarating dito, dami rin nating pinagdaanan. Kailangan natin talaga to fight through it.”