Miss and die
It’s down to one last game—a do-or-die,” said San Miguel Beer coach Leo Austria.
He couldn’t have put it any better his Beermen, seeking to win the PBA Philippine Cup an unprecedented fifth straight season, take on TNT for the right to play on at Smart Araneta Coliseum in Cubao.
With their backs to the wall, Austria believes a shift in approach could shift the odds in their favor in the 4:30 p.m. contest.
“We have to play better defense,” he said following 93-88 loss to TNT on Monday night. “[In Game 1] we only allowed them 78 points, tonight it’s 93—that’s 15 points more.”
“The name of the game is how you can play good defense. We may be No. 1 in offense when it comes to percentages, but we have to play defense, too, for us to win,” he added.
Bong Ravena, Austria’s counterpart at TNT, refuses to celebrate anything despite having some sort of momentum coming into the game.
“[There’s] nothing to celebrate,” he said. “We just tied the series.”
“I just hope that our intensity, our energy will be the same—or even better,” Ravena said.
Meanwhile, if there’s one team in this sudden death day that definitely has momentum going, it’s Magnolia.
Hotshots will be shooting for a repeat of an authoritative 106-77 victory over Barangay Ginebra also on Monday night when they go up against crowd darling Gin Kings in the 7 p.m. game.
“We just need to prepare really well,” Magnolia mentor Chito Victolero said. “With the same effort and same desire, I think we have a chance.”
TNT shoots for their first semifinal appearance since 2016, while Magnolia hopes for another deep campaign after falling short last year.
The Gin Kings, for their part, hope to come into this game successful in shaking the cobwebs of that murderous rout two nights ago.
But no stake is larger for the Beermen, who are looking to extend their already-historic four-straight Philippine Cup titles.
“Hopefully we could adjust to the kind of defense they’re applying on us,” Austria said. “We have to devise some plays to avoid that kind of pressure defense.”
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