Texters’ fate in their hands
Competitive as they are, the coaches of the PBA Governors’ Cup finals are willing to stretch the mind game they’ve been playing to one more game.
However, their players are beginning to feel the pressure of the long season and the in-the-trenches warfare that has characterized this finale.
In the postgame conference with the PBA Press Corps after Petron’s 93-80 Game 5 win, coach Chot Reyes of Talk ‘N Text played one of his last cards in the series by calling out to Scottie Reynolds to perform like an import that matters. Petron’s Anthony Grundy outplayed Reynolds anew hitting 26 points, snaring 11 rebounds and issuing six assists. “Our import sucks,” Reyes blurted out without hesitation, “Their import played great.”
It remains to be seen if Reynolds will at all respond to the challenge of his coach. Reynolds does not seem like the vociferous, chest-pumping leader like Arizona Reid or Gabe Freeman. He will have to do the talking with his shooting which he is totally capable of.
Reyes did the same to Ali Peek by issuing a Missing Person’s distress call for the usually hard-working big man. Peek tried his best in Game 5 with 11 points, and 10 rebounds. Reynolds needs to take over the game with his offense, especially without Jason Castro and his dazzling moves that ignite the TNT charge.
The absence of Castro, who Reyes reported as hurting with an MCL tear, could very well be the determining factor of the series and the break that Ato Agustin was looking for. The vastly improved Castro, who has added a reliable jumper to his game, plays with a college gung-ho spirit that lifts TNT when its energy ebbs every now and then. Without Castro, the Tropang Texters need to find quickly an energy man that will counter Petron’s edge in series momentum.
So with a 3-2 lead in a series almost everybody thought they couldn’t win, does Petron have what it takes to stop the TNT Grand Slam?
Petron has a solid chance if it realizes that it was its effort to jam TNT’s fastbreak that was the key to their victories in the last two games. In Game 5, the Blaze Boosters limited TNT to only 11 points on the break and that’s like taking away the Texters rockets.
The decision to be stronger defensively also resulted in TNT shooting only 33.3 percent from the field, hitting a paltry eight of 35 three-point heaves. Reyes acknowledged that the rainbow shot is vital to their game since they don’t have a strong, athletic big man inside.
TNT will have to shake off the burden of the injuries of the long season and dig deep within themselves to force a deciding seventh game on Sunday. Their fate is in their hands as to whether their team name will be etched alongside Crispa, San Miguel and Alaska in the plaque that marks the entrance to the Grand Slam hall.
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