TNT shoots for 2-0 lead, but Chot knows it won’t be easy
Chot Reyes knows that there’s no place for complacency for his TNT crew, even after an 88-70 Game 1 victory over Magnolia that opened up the best-of-seven title series for the PBA Philippine Cup on Wednesday night.
He doesn’t need to look far in pointing out the obvious.
“You saw what happened in the last series [in the semifinals with San Miguel Beer],” he said, as the Tropang Giga and the Beermen went the full seven-game distance with all of their wins practically being blowouts. “We’d win big one game, then we’d lose big the next. So we have to be prepared,” he said. “We’re sure that [the Hotshots] are going to come back with counter-adjustments in Game 2.”
TNT and Magnolia go at it again on Friday at 6 p.m. at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga, and what’s at stake is complete command for a Tropang Giga squad if they can hold it all together for the second straight game against a Magnolia crew that is armed to the teeth and itching for some payback.
“We want to be better in the Finals than we were in the semifinals,” Reyes said matter-of-factly. “Because I thought that if we just come into the Finals and just put in the same [effort] as we did in the semis, then we’re going to be in trouble.” But just how could a team like the Tropang Giga, who played with unrelenting and unflinching poise throughout Game 1, possibly outdo themselves?
A rookie’s idea
Mikey Williams, the fourth overall Draft pick who put the hurt on the Hotshots in Game 1 with 21 points and 10 rebounds in just three quarters, has ideas.
“We have to make sure that we kind of cut out all the little, tacky fouls that we’ve been doing and not try to be overaggressive or overzealous,” Williams said.
“If we can continue to monitor that and neutralize that, I feel like we’ll put ourselves in a good position in the next game,” he added.
The Tropang Giga, though, might be forced to do everything without Kelly Williams, their resurgent veteran who remains under observation after hurting his back after going for a dunk in Game 1. So bad was the injury that the former Most Valuable Player had to be taken out of the floor on a stretcher.
Though Magnolia’s veteran core did not play up to par in Game 1, the threat of it playing to its true worth remains.
The Hotshots’ starting unit, usually anchored by Ian Sangalang, accounted for just 16 points. Paul Lee had 12 off the bench, while Calvin Abueva added 11 before coach Chito Victolero reached for his cleanup brigade and began plotting for the next game.
“We don’t think he’s going to score just five points the rest of the series,” Reyes said of Sangalang. “We just need to get ready. Like I said, I’m sure coach Chito is going to do some other things to get him into more positions to score and counter our defense on him.”
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