TNT tests ‘Filipino candidate’ Cameron Oliver as it begins bounce-back journey
TNT has gotten over its bitter defeat the last conference, and coach Chot Reyes said they are continuing to learn from it.
“[Bouncing back] also can’t be our only motivation,” Reyes said without evaluating as his Tropang Giga open their PBA Commissioner’s Cup campaign against formidable Magnolia at Smart Araneta Coliseum on Wednesday. “We’ve talked about it (Game 7 Philippine Cup Finals loss) at length and tried to pick the lessons from the loss.”
Cameron Oliver will get a baptism by fire in the 5:45 p.m. contest as he will be going head-to-head with Serbian Nick Rakocevic even as San Miguel Beer, which went on to win the PH Cup, starts its chase for the second jewel of an elusive Triple Crown in the 3 p.m. game against Blackwater, but not after tapping a new import at the last minute.
Oliver, who is being considered for naturalization for Gilas, will literally get his first feel of a PBA game after the Tropang Giga weren’t able to play tuneup games, something which Reyes is ruing.
“We’ll only know how good he (Oliver) is at game time as we haven’t even had the chance to play any tuneup games,” Reyes said. “We can hardly get 10 guys in practice due to all our injuries.
“We even had to have our 3×3 players practice with us just so we can scrimmage. Pati tuloy laro nila nagulo.”
Diamond Stone arrived late Tuesday to pinch-hit for the highly-regarded Thomas Robinson, whom the Beermen placed on the injured list (See related story on this page).
San Miguel will have the lighter assignment compared to TNT, which will be playing a Hotshots crew coming off two straight wins where Rakocevic tossed in an average of 33 points that went with 25 rebounds.
The big deal for Magnolia and Rokocevic coming into this game is that they will play a title contender for the first time.
Chito Victolero of Magnolia was glad seeing Rokocevic toss in 45 points in a 100-92 win over Terrafirma, but was even happier when his local roster filled the gap when the Hotshots import was held down to just 21 in a 109-105 nipping of Converge last Saturday.
“Seeing him make 45 [points] was a good feeling,” Victolero said as he tries to steer Magnolia to the solo lead. “But I was looking for the locals to contribute in that game, and we got that in our next game against Converge, which clearly states that the locals can step up just in case.”
Meanwhile, PBA commissioner Willie Marcial said the league received a notice of garnishment from the Nasugbu (Batangas) Regional Trial Court (RTC), but added that the asset the court order is after is no longer in the PBA’s hands.
Judge Wilhelmina Go-Santiago of Nasugbu RTC issued the Writ of Preliminary attachment against the properties of Phoenix for its failure to settle its debts of P157 million to Absolute Distillers, Inc. The PBA was included in a list of institutions that were served notices because of a P100-million bond that new teams pay the league to ensure a long-term participation by a franchise.
“We received the notice, but we no longer have the P100-million bond. That was returned to Phoenix already because they’ve met the minimum requirement of [a five-year] stay for new teams in the league,” Marcial said.
The league boss said the PBA holds on to the bond for five years before returning it to the team. Phoenix has been in the league since 2016.
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