FOR TNT, there is nothing to do but move forward from its failed bid in the PBA Philippine Cup bubble.
In fact, Tropang Giga coach Bong Ravena insisted there are at least a couple of valuable lessons they’ve learned that they would put into good use once the next season unfolds in April.
“Positive kami sa campaign namin sa bubble,” Ravena told Malaya-Business Insight days after Ginebra wrapped up their best-of-seven series 4-1 last Wednesday.
“Marami kaming gains. Marami kaming nakuha, natutunan,” added Ravena. “The only negative there is, we didn’t get the championship.”
Ravena admitted the injuries suffered by his two key players – Jayson Castro and Ray-Ray Parks – prevented the Tropa from flaunting their true form in the finals.
“Injuries lang, inabot kami,” said Ravena.
Parks, a contender for the Best Player of the Conference award, averaged 25.6 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 2.0 steals in the playoffs before being sidelined for good after the series opener.
Castro left the second half of Game 4 due to hurting knees and never saw action again. It was later learned the two-time FIBA Asia Best Guard was suffering from bone spurs on both knees.
Still, TNT gave Ginebra a good fight, even leading 73-68 going to the last five minutes of Game 5.
That proved to be the Tropa’s last stand, however, as Stanley Pringle, Japeth Aguilar and LA Tenorio took the Kings home to a title-clinching 82-78 victory.
“Lumaban naman hanggang huli. Kaya sana, pero kulang pa,” noted Ravena. “Akala namin makakasilat pa.”
That marked the third time TNT came closest to ending a title drought since its last championship in the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup. In the 2017 and 2019 editions of the same mid-season tournament, the Manny V. Pangilinan-owned franchise also came in second.
“Try again ulit,” said Ravena, adding how to better close out games is another item to be ticked off in their coming campaign.
“We should know how to finish the game. Kasi medyo dehado kami doon sa dulo ng ilang games nu’ng finals,” he said.
Ravena said the players would officially return to practice by mid-January, but most should be doing their individual workouts well before then.
In the meantime, Parks and Roger Pogoy, who bucked some gimpy ankles to shine the most for the Tropa in the titular series, are getting their much-needed rest while Castro is set to start undergoing surgeries within this week to repair his knees.
“Iyung isa muna, then after one week ‘yung isa naman,” related Ravena.
“Being healthy, in better condition ang priorities sa ngayon,” added Ravena. “Para by the time the next season comes around we can give ourselves another chance. Hopefully, makabawi kami.”