Sustaining team harmony key for TNT
TNT coach Chot Reyes was philosophical about the way TNT was able to beat Magnolia in a hard-fought semifinal series that put them one step closer toward retaining the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) Philippine Cup crown.
“Through all of the ups and downs of the series, the players always come together, huddled, talked among themselves, and found ways to give each other strength, to give each other power,” Reyes said.
These are the same qualities Reyes hopes his Tropang Giga can carry into the Finals series as they aim to repeat as champions of the PBA’s most prestigious conference.
Beating the Hotshots may benefit the Tropang Giga a lot after dealing with a hard-fought series that ended in six games.
TNT clinched the series last Sunday with an 87-74 win, and is in the midst of a long rest and preparation for the championship duel against San Miguel Beer.
The Beermen advanced after an authoritative 100-89 win over Meralco in Game 7 of their Final Four series.
“We have a lot of players who are banged up, so that extra break is really going to come in really, really handy, not only to rest but also to prepare,” said Reyes.
Reyes praised his team for the way it was able to hurdle the challenge of taking on a Magnolia squad known for its stingy defense as a unit plus capable offensive players like Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang.
Magnolia averaged 90.5 points on 38-percent shooting from the field and committed 14.0 turnovers during the series.
“It was just the players resolving not to allow the other players of the other team to outwork them,” he said. “And I think the best manifestation of effort is defense, how well you defend against a super offensive powerhouse like Magnolia.
“For us to hold them under 80 [in Game 6] was huge for us. In the end, it was about effort and the best, most concrete example of that effort was our desire to play defense.”
TNT made its way to the Finals despite an offseason dealing with the contract situation of Mikey Williams coupled with a 2-2 start to open the conference.
But the Tropang Giga got their acts together midway into the eliminations before Williams and management were able to reach common ground, resulting in an 8-3 record and a twice-to-beat advantage as the second-ranked team entering the playoffs.
After beating Converge in the quarters, TNT took on Magnolia and saw Williams getting checked as the series rolled on. But the teamwork Reyes has been preaching was on display in the semis.
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