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Far from satisfied

Chot refuses to be blinded by his Tropang Giga’s perfect record, and instead is exhorting his charges to keep working hard
/ 04:03 AM September 06, 2021

Brian Heruela pierces the gut of the Magnolia defense to score off an easy layup. —PBA IMAGES

TNT notched its sixth straight victory after holding off tough-as-nails Magnolia, 83-76, on Sunday night in a battle of early pacesetters in the PBA Philippine Cup at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga province.

But remaining perfect—which put Tropang Giga way ahead of the pack—still hasn’t made the multititled Chot Reyes sound satisfied.

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“We are a work in progress,” Reyes said. “We are not thinking of our record. We’re not thinking of anything else except to get better.”

For Reyes, that is the way to ensure that TNT stays on even keel, along with the constant reminder of “letting (the players) know that it is still very early in the season.”

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Early or not, everything was indeed clicking for the Tropang Giga, who doomed the Hotshots to their second loss in seven games.

Kelly Williams was in center of TNT’s commendable outing, turning back the clock with 13 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in his finest outing since coming back from a one-year retirement.

Jayson Castro, Mikey Williams and Roger Pogoy’s prints were all over the win as well, as they tossed in twin digits.

There’s another side that has also stayed perfect, since the restart at least, as Terrafirma brought down a third straight foe in Blackwater, 96-84, to blow into contention for a spot in the playoff that didn’t seem feasible before the tournament was shuttered early last month because of a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Metro.

“Our focus on this game was very simple: that we outwork them and that we manage to match their intensity,” said Reyes, who expressed relief after overcoming the Hotshots’ charge led by Calvin Abueva.

Abueva registered a game-high 23 points to go with his six boards. Paul Lee added 13 while Mark Barroca and Ian Sanggalang had 10 each in the losing effort.

“I think we all did a good job of making sure we played our position,” said Williams, the 2008 Most Valuable Player. The Barangay Ginebra-­Meralco tussle, which was supposed to be played in between the Terrafirma and TNT wins, was suspended in accordance with the league’s health protocols and will be rescheduled to a later date.

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The Dyip used a 24-8 run in the final quarter to grease their march to a third straight win, which was expected considering that they were up against the listless Bossing and after Terrafirma came from victories over powerhouses San Miguel Beer and Barangay Ginebra.

“I was worried about this third game. I thought (the players) might become complacent,” said Johnedel Cardel, whose club improved to 3-4, good enough for the 7th spot in the race.

“So I tried to push the players,” he added.

With Juami Tiongson’s production kept to a minimum, the Dyip turned to its skipper, Aldrech Ramos, with Reden Celda and Andreas Cahilig also stepping up.

The trio keyed a balanced attack to help bury the Bossing to holes as deep as 18 points.

“I knew that the others guys have plenty of basketball left in them,” said Cardel. INQ

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TAGS: Basketball, Brian Heruela, PBA, PBA Philippine Cup
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