Aug 09, 2022

TNT tries to keep control of series, Magnolia determined to bounce back

WHETHER TNT can take an imposing lead or Magnolia would be able to catch up once again would be known Wednesday in the continuation of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

One thing for sure: The combatants are out to go all-out in their bid to hit their respective targets.

"It's going to be much harder," predicted coach Chot Reyes after his Tropang Giga eked out a 93-92 thriller last Sunday that gave them a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.

"We're both going to take a couple of days before the next game so we'll see how we'll be able to take advantage of that recovery period," added Reyes. "I expect it to be even tougher than tonight."

"We'll see," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero Tuesday. "Tingnan natin kung 'yung preparations, konting adjustments na ginawa namin would be enough. Kasi base doon sa Game 3 wala ng masyadong kailangang baguhin sa gameplan namin."

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Indeed, the Hotshots put up a gritty stand despite losing Calvin Abueva and Ian Sangalang to fouls late in the fourth period, even managing to take a 92-90 lead before being foiled by Jayson Castro's clutch triple in the last two seconds.

"Breaks of the game. Very proud pa din of the guys," related Victolero. "Nawala key players but we almost survived. Madali sanang mag-give up na kasi nga wala na Ian and Calvin, dapat mababa na morale mo. But we kept on fighting until the end."

Victolero also claimed other positives in the loss, which came after Magnolia negated a 96-108 loss in the opener with a 92-88 decision in Game 2. "Good thing, the other guys stepped up," he pointed out.

"It's a series also so we know na these guys p'wede naming asahan down the road. Meron pa ring positives. Lagi namang ganoon, you always try and look sa magagandang nangyayari kahit papaano."

Reyes also lauded his other players for stepping up after Mikey Williams, who averaged 27 points in the duel's first two games, was held to only 15 points. The reigning scoring champion did have 10 assists but almost wrote those off with seven turnovers.

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"Mikey's a big part of our offense, but we win games as a team, with everyone's contribution," stated Reyes. "Mikey is not gonna be hot all the time. It's going to take team effort, a complete, total team effort to get two more wins here."

Victolero wants the same from his team. "Every little thing na ma-contribute malaking bagay sa amin. Every rebound, assist, kasi nga 'yung laro talagang halos dikit. We need talaga our team defense to complement our individual effort," he said.

Additional boost could come Magnolia's way if Rafi Reavis, who had nine points, six rebounds and four dimes in Game 2 but missed the following game due to health and safety protocols, be deemed good enough to play. (NC)