‘We will force a Game 7’
After watching his team blow a huge fourth quarter cushion and rushing to the defense of his import, who was the target of a racist taunt, TNT active consultant Mark Dickel hardly sounded like a man deflated.
The KaTropa, he said, are “on a mission to gain everyone’s respect.”
They will have to work double time, literally, to achieve that as they try to fend off elimination when they clash against the San Miguel Beermen in Game 6 of the PBA Commissioner’s Cup Finals on Friday at Smart Araneta Coliseum.
TNT will try to overhaul San Miguel’s 3-2 series edge and it may have just found the fuel to run on in the game that tips off at 7 p.m. as it seeks the first of back-to-back victories it needs to claim the crown.
Dickel and the KaTropa have rallied around their import, Terrence Jones, who has been the target of a racist taunt from San Miguel’s Arwind Santos.
“I am so disappointed for your country that Arwind Santos can blatantly make racist comments and actions and think it’s OK,” Dickel told the Inquirer on Thursday afternoon, referring to Santos’ monkey gesture to Jones at halftime of Game 5.
“I just don’t get it. The Beermen are playing good basketball … the game is beautiful and he is ruining it,” he added.
The PBA dropped the hammer on the Beermen’s veteran forward, hitting him hard in the pocket (see story on Page A17) and coaxing a public apology from the previously unrepentant cager.
Before the apology, Santos defended his actions saying Jones’ reaction would define his actions (If Jones was offended, Santos said in Filipino, he might really be a monkey). He dug in even harder when he said his actions meant nothing, considering he used to call former teammate Dorian Peña, who like Jones has African-American roots, “a gorilla.”
“He is a huge reflection of their organization. They are condoning this stuff,” Dickel said. “San Miguel has to be answerable in today’s world climate for his actions. This is not OK at all.”
And the Beermen may even get hit more by the fallout of Santos’ antics as they are expected to face an inspired KaTropa squad that will go out with every intention of making Santos pay.
And Dickel is confident they will succeed.
“We will force a Game 7,” he declared.
While the Santos controversy will dump a load of drama on Game 6, Dickel is keeping an even keel as he and head coach Bong Ravena try to navigate the team to a do-or-die Game 7.
“I’m positive that we will play a great game tomorrow. We are up for the challenge. And we will do our part in the game and compete with honor,” he said.
“In Game 6, someone has to be up 3-2. And it’s them,” Dickel added.
The Beermen, meanwhile, will try to build on the gains of their Game 6 victory as they look to annex the second jewel of a Triple Crown season.
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