At least a split for TNT
Nash Racela will have all hands on deck as TNT KaTropa makes a determined push for a twice-to-beat advantage in the first round of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup playoffs.
The Texters slug it out with Magnolia on Wednesday, seeking the first of at least two wins their coach feels would be enough to give them a shot at a top two berth and one of the playoff bonuses.
“At least two,” Racela said over the phone when asked of the number of wins TNT still needs to contend for a 1-2 finish after the elimination round.
“Especially if one of those wins comes against Rain or Shine (the tournament leader which the Texters will play last).”
Tip off is at 7 p.m. at Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay and the Hotshots are just the first of a string of four tough teams the Texters will play to close out their elimination round schedule.
With a 6-1 record, the Texters are already assured of a quarterfinal berth, but Racela said the battle is now for a place “where every team wants to get to.”
“If we can get a top two slot, the better,” he said as the Texters seek to reclaim a piece of top spot again with the idle Elasto Painters even as defending champion San Miguel Beer battles dangerous GlobalPort in the 4:30 p.m. curtain raiser.
Racela will have RR Pogoy and Troy Rosario returning to the lineup after representing the Philippines well in the 3×3 World Cup.
He is also content at what he is getting from import Josh Smith thus far, though he acknowledged that the burly center is still not in 100 percent shape yet.
“He’s healthy, and that’s a big factor,” Racela said of Smith, who took them to the Finals last season despite playing on one healthy foot.
The Beermen and the Meralco Bolts are the other two sides TNT will still play.
San Miguel, meanwhile, is back in the groove, but coach Leo Austria believes that his Beermen still have a lot of things to work on.
“I saw it in our previous game. I’m happy that we won, but we gave up so many points,” said Austria, referring to the Beermen’s 129-117 victory over the Columbian Dyip exactly a week ago.
“It’s an indication that we’re not playing [defense] well. There are times that the team also falls into complacency, you can see it in their body language,” added Austria.
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