SMART Clark Giga City. - By the looks of it, Phoenix Super LPG seems to have TNT's number.
If only coach Topex Robinson could be so easily swayed as he maintained his Fuel Masters only want to extend their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals duel with the Tropang Giga as much as they can at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Gym in Angeles City.
"This is a big win for us, to get our bearings back," Robinson has said following a 110-103 victory last Friday that leveled the best-of-five series at one game apiece.
"Hopefully, we could prolong the series," added Robinson.
The Fuel Masters look certain to hit at least that modest goal since their Game 2 victory came on the heels of a narrow 92-95 loss in the opener just two days earlier, giving them a big and welcome confidence builder against an experienced and talent-laden squad featuring several national team players.
His Fuel Masters need to at least continue doing what have worked for them so well in the first two games if they want to move ahead in the series, according to Robinson.
"TNT has been a bit of a problem in front of us, for us to reach the finals and one way or another we have to face the problem," said Robinson.
"We just have to give our very best. No guarantee of winning, but as long as we know in our heart of hearts that we gave our best then that's it," added Robinson.
"So far even in Game 1 we had a chance to win and now we eventually won and got over the hump of beating TNT. Hopefully, we can get Game 3. But, again, we have to remind ourselves to always be hungry and always make sure that we are grounded and it will take all of us to again beat a team like TNT."
The Tropang Giga have their own share of concerns and it's primarily trying to pick a couple of pages from the Fuel Masters' playbook and have threats coming from different directions while making sure their defense holds.
Rayray Parks scored a career-high 41 points while Poy Erram and Troy Rosario emerged with double-doubles in Game 2. But Roger Pogoy typified TNT's shooting woes by going just 5-of-15 from the field for 13 points while worse off was Jayson Castro, who could only manage 2-of-10 and nine points, a far cry from his 20 points in the opener.
It would not always be like that, stated Robinson. "We know that Jayson is really a proven winner. We know that if the game is on the line, we know who's gonna take that shot and we respect that. We have to find ways," he said.
For Phoenix to give itself a better chance of going past its first-ever semis appearance hinges on it consistently keeping Castro - TNT's acknowledged leader - in check, added Robinson.
"Again, we just want to make sure that everybody is in check because that TNT team has a solid lineup so we have to pick our poison," offered Robinson.
"It just so happened now that Jayson didn't really contribute but we know that Jayson will come back stronger." (NC)