Chot says they have ‘seen’ themselves in PBA Finals way before PH Cup started
There was no doubt in Chot Reyes’ mind that TNT would get back in the PBA Philippine Cup Finals.
Yes, cocky as he may have sounded, that was for this season.
“When we were going through all our team development stuff, preseason and all that, we already pictured ourselves here, in the Finals,” he said on Sunday night on the heels of a masterful 97-79 Game 7 semifinal victory over powerhouse San Miguel Beer.
“We saw this before,” he added, and such belief, according to Reyes, was actually born of ambition and not arrogance. Reyes said he was merely tapping into the suggestive powers of the mind.
“I say that with all humility,” he went on. “If you want to get to a certain place, you have to see yourself [there] first, right?”
New era starts
Reyes knows that everything that he has accomplished with the franchise—the five PBA titles he helped deliver at the turn of the past decade—are nothing more but anecdotal footnotes now.
This is a new day, a new Reyes era, that he gets to write.
“It’s hard to get to some place if you don’t see where you’re going. So we had to paint this picture for the players to see clearly,” he added.
It’s worked so far.
Still armed with the same core from last year’s trip to the Finals, the club went on win all but one of its 11 games in the elimination round to be the top seed.
And then the hard work for them started, as they had to first bundle out defending champion Barangay Ginebra in the quarterfinals before bringing down the outrageously deep Beermen in a Game 7 they ruled emphatically.
There was actually a time when Reyes’ conviction was threatened as Kelly Williams was ruled out of the first four games of the San Miguel series by the PBA’s health and safety protocols, and Poy Erram injured his cheekbone which cast a big, dark cloud on his hopes of TNT advancing past the Beermen.
Far from done
San Miguel, meanwhile, was playing full stretch with cornerstone June Mar Fajardo again dominating and scoring champion CJ Perez fitting in perfectly.
“I really didn’t expect that we would get through this series, not because I did not have faith in my team, but because we didn’t have all our players,” he said.
Now back to a place they all envisioned, Reyes and his charges have been afforded a collective sigh of relief as his Tropang Giga sealed a best-of-seven title clash with the third team in the rock-solid San Miguel Corp. conglomerate, the Magnolia Hotshots.
But that sigh was for that last series, and they know it in their gut that they haven’t come this far to settle for a second-place trophy.
“There’s a feeling of relief, for certain, that we got by such a huge, strong team like San Miguel,” he said. “But there’s also that feeling of you know, we are still far from over.”
“The job is only half done. But at least we got here,” he said.
“Now we got to figure out how to play and compete against this tough Magnolia squad,” he added.
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