TNT KaTropa coach Nash Racela knows how dangerous Barangay Ginebra could be.
So Racela and his charges are sure to go all out and try to close the deal against the Kings Thursday in their PBA Commissioner's Cup semi-final series at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
A 107-103 win just last Tuesday gave TNT a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series and put the KaTropa on the verge of realizing a first finals stint since topping the 2016 edition of the same mid-season tourney.
Having such an imposing series lead against Ginebra took Racela aback, as he himself admitted. But he also maintained he will only be more comfortable if his team can seal the deal right away.
"It's a surprise in a sense that it's against Ginebra,"said Racela following his team's followup to its 100-94 win in the opener.
"You don't usually get this kind of an advantage against Ginebra," added Racela. "But knowing the character of this team they never give up. So if there's one team that could come back it's them."
There's ample proof why TNT can't relax.
Ginebra recently showed it could fight back from such a deficit during the season-opening Philippine Cup semi-finals, eventually winning against Star. But that was a best-of-seven.
"Our backs are against the wall again," said Japeth Aguilar. "We’ll (have to) do it the hard way again. May chance pa so it’s up to us kung paano namin ma-so-solve and kung paano namin tatalunin TNT… Hindi pa naman kami nawawalan ng pag-asa. We’re still looking forward to Game 3."
"Sana mapakita ulit namin ngayon, kasi last conference down kami 0-2, pero best-of-seven 'yun, ito short series lang," said Scottie Thompson. "Sana dito namin maipakita 'yung 'never say die' spirit."
According to league chief statistician Fidel Mangonon III, 33 of 34 teams which led 2-0 in a best-of-five went on to win the series since the format was institutionalized in 1993.
The only exception: TNT in the 2010 Phil Cup versus Ginebra.
"That's why we need to guard against complacency," stressed Racela. "We need to double our focus."
Already, Ginebra showed it could come up with solutions to several problems presented by TNT and its hulking import, Joshua Smith.
After torching the Kings for 35 points and 13 rebounds in 28 minutes in the opener Smith was held down to only 16 points on nine attempts along with 16 boards in 27 minutes last Tuesday.
As a result, Ginebra was able to engage TNT into a more nip-and-tuck affair and even posted the game's biggest difference at seven points.
That is, Anthony Semerad found his touch in the fourth quarter with four triples, the last giving the KaTropa the lead for good, 105-103.
Smith then sealed the deal by blocking a reverse try by Ginebra counterpart Justin Brownlee and scoring on a putback, only eight seconds left.
Racela said more fine-tuning is needed in his team's own game if it hopes to counter whatever moves the Kings may make. “We’re looking orward to Game 3 adjustments,” he said.
“Coach Tim (Cone) made a lot of good adjustments and some of it we already saw, but we still had a hard time countering it so we would have to do our homework again tonight and tomorrow.”