Kevin Ferrer may not have had the biggest shots of the game, but for coach Nash Racela, the Ginebra rookie made the biggest impact in Game 4 after frustrating TNT import Glen Rice Jr. early in the game.
“Kevin Ferrer was the best player of the game,” Racela told reporters after Ginebra ousted TNT in the 2017 PBA Governors’ Cup semifinals on Sunday.
Rice shoved Ferrer to the floor and threw the ball at him that led to his early ejection at the 1:41 mark of the first quarter.
The KaTropa had no choice but to play all-Filipino from that point forward, fighting valiantly but eventually falling to the Gin Kings, 115-105.
Frustrated with how TNT’s season came to an end, Racela struggled to explain what went wrong for his team.
“I just want to congratulate Ginebra for being the more aggressive team tonight,” he slyly said. “They got a lot of free throws again, so it’s because they were more aggressive than us despite taking 15 less two-point field goals. I’m sure that what coach Tim (Cone) will say.”
TNT shot 15-of-16 from the charity stripe and went 30-of-62 from the two-point area, compared to Ginebra’s 23-of-33 free throw shooting and 28-of-47 clip from two. The KaTropa were also whistled for 32 fouls, against 20 for the Gin Kings. Both teams were close to even from threes, with TNT hoisting 10-of-37 and Ginebra throwing 12-of-32.
That affair ended the KaTropa’s season, which saw them reach the semifinals in all three conferences and the Finals once.
It wasn’t a disappointing campaign to say the least for TNT, but for Racela, there’s only one clear thing going forward: that San Miguel teams are really the hurdle that TNT needs to get through if it wants to win the championship.
“I’m happy that for three conferences, we were able to advance to the playoffs. But it just so happened that in all the three conferences, we played a San Miguel team, and you know how tough it is to play a San Miguel team, so it’s really hard. But if you want to win a championship, we really have to get past a San Miguel team,” he said.
“I think we need to have more players who are more aggressive. Maybe that will help us. So now, if we become more aggressive, then we force the referees to call more fouls. That’s the only thing I could think of right now,” he said. “If you study the whole series, it all boils down to who gets more free throws, who get fouled a lot. That’s something we’re trying to study. Maybe we could improve on that aspect.”