Clamped down on defense in Game 1 then torched with a torrid shooting in Game 2, Magnolia is now a side carrying a heavy burden of needing to find the right adjustments to stop its rampaging opponent.
Failing in that task could spell doom for the Hotshots.
For the TNT Tropang Giga are all pumped-up and determined to push their drive towards claiming their first crown in 15 conferences.
The Tropa seek to get to the hill with a huge 3-0 lead in the PBA Philippine Cup best-of-seven titular series as they tangle with the embattled Hotshots at 4:35 p.m. Sunday at the DHVSU Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
It's been virtually a one-sided series so far for TNT with coach Chot Reyes' troops dominating on the way to an 88-70 romp in Game 1 then zooming to an early 21-point and quashing the Hotshots' fourth-quarter rally for a 105-93 victory in Game 2.
The Tropang Giga have actually been on a swashbuckling roll from Game 7 of their semis face-off with the San Miguel Beermen. They took that do-or-die game at 97-79.
Super rookie Mikey Williams and his teammates have been on the spot on offense and getting their rewards on their hustles.
The Tropang Giga have been relentless as they're responding to their coach's call to focus on improvement day-by-day, game-by-game.
And they're not about to lull into complacency. They continue to brace for a tough grind.
"We are playing a tough team and we can't take it lightly," said Williams, the main man thus far in the series with his averages of 24.5 points, 9.5 rebounds, 5.5 assists and 1.5 steals.
The TNT coach said Magnolia was right there in the battle in Game 2.
"That game was a lot closer than the score indicated," said Reyes. "It just happened that we shot very well in the first half. But we've been around long enough to know that's not gonna happen everyday. We expect a close game every single game in this series and we're not going to change that expectation going to Game 3."
TNT got a tremendous lift from Kelly Williams in Game 2. But his status remains day-to-day with his sore back.
"He anchors our defense. But as you saw, we subbed him out again in the fourth and we couldn't get him back in because the back spasm was acting up. We'll see how it's gonna be for the next game," said Reyes.
Magnolia's Ian Sangalang is nursing the same injury. But he was a force in Game 2, bulldozing his way to 25 points on top of eight rebounds, two assists and two steals.
The Hotshots pummeled the Tropang Giga, 50-28, on points at the paint. But there's still no stopping TNT. (SB)