Emotions are high. But at the end of the day, it's the team that stays focused and plays better ball - no-nothing, no-extras - that is likely to win the championship.
That's the growing consensus even among the protagonists in the PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals, heading into the critical Game Four at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Sunday.
The TNT KaTropa, enjoying a good break the last time after a bad one in Game Two, go for a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven title playoff.
TNT regained the series lead in Game Three following a 115-105 victory in the contest that Terrence Jones should not have finished at all for a head-butting infraction on Chris Ross. Jones was assessed a P20,000 fine by the league Saturday as the Commissioner's Office upgraded his flagrant foul penalty 1 to penalty 2.
An earlier incident between Jones and Ross resulted to the ejection of the TNT import in Game Two - a terrible blow for the KaTropa leading to their sorry 125-127 defeat in double-overtime.
Ross has admitted he's playing mind game with Jones and he's expected to do just that for the rest of the series. There's also Christian Standhardinger who has had a running physical matchup with Jones.
And so an extra task for the TNT think-tank is to continuously talk to Jones to keep his cool.
"Sinasabihan namin to stay focused, be patient, and don't lose your head," said TNT coach Bong Ravena.
No question, Jones is a monster of an import when he's just focused on the game.
He flirted with a triple-double performance in leading the KaTropa to victories in Games One and Three. He had 41 points, 12 rebounds and eight assists in the first game and 39 markers, 18 boards and nine dish-offs in the next victory.
Ravena insists the key is keeping emotions in check.
"Emotions were high the start of the game. We just had to stay in the game, stay focused and not get carried away by emotions. We played our game, played harder and it helped us come back," said Ravena.
TnT's game-changing 24-0 blast Friday night was the second longest unanswered run in PBA finals history, next only to Ginebra's 31-0 salvo in fourth quarter of Game 5 of the 1991 First Conference title series against Shell.
"Despite the big deficit, we just focused, stayed composed as we know we can still come back and we had time to do it," said Don Trollano, who had a career-high18 spiked by three treys.
But the Beermen aren't expected to fade away easily either.
Perhaps, they can play better if Ross and Standhardinger stick with what they do best.
There's also June Mar Fajardo who is slowly becoming a tough problem for Jones in their collisions down low. (SB)