Mar 01, 2024

"Every game is a must-win game"-- Cariaso

BLACKWATER and TNT were both admittedly lucky in their PBA Philippine Cup opening games.

More than a little luck is needed if both the Bossing and Tropang Giga hope to notch a second straight win Saturday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

A keen sense of urgency is something Blackwater coach Jeff Cariaso stressed anew to his players right after their 96-93 escape over Meralco as his team tries to avoid its 1-0 start in the last Commissioner's Cup, only to lose their next 10 games.

"The way we look at it, every game is a must-win game, it's a playoff game. That's how we approach it," Cariaso has said.

"We wanna make sure na we use tonight's game to inspire us and motivate us even more, but we know that going to the TNT game they're gonna be a big fish that we have to handle," added Cariaso.

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Cariaso also can't emphasize enough the need for his Bossing to be aggressive on both ends of the court for the full 48 minutes, unlike in their opener when they almost blew a 19-point fourth-quarter spread.

Equally focused on its own fine-tuning is TNT, which trailed Rain or Shine for the majority of the game before unleashing a Calvin Oftana-led endgame spurt that led to a 108-107 squeaker.

Returning Tropa coach Chot Reyes, however, mostly credited the win to the Elasto Painters missing 18 of the 42 charities awarded them. "I think we were just lucky that Rain or Shine missed their free throws," he said.

"We gave way too many free throws. If Rain or Shine made half of the free throws that they missed, I think they would have won this ballgame easily."

Committing much fewer fouls is among the TNT priorities right now, added Reyes. "I thought we had to go back and rework how we were defending and adjust to the way the referees are calling it," he stated.

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Blackwater's concerns are a lot more widespread, with Cariaso also trying to build more chemistry with his holdovers and new players while having to deal with TNT's stacked arsenal led by Oftana, Roger Pogoy, Jayson Castro, and new acquisition Brandon Ganuelas-Rosser, who tallied 15 points and 14 rebounds.

"They have a new guy there that they traded for and he's gonna be ready," said Cariaso. "So just prepare these next two days and make sure mentally we're focused and give our best on Saturday."(NC)