SMART Clark Giga City. -- A willing recipient of some good breaks its last time out, TNT intends to make its own luck Friday.
The Tropang Giga should if they want to hurdle Phoenix Super LPG and move on the threshold of a cherished target in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart 5G-powered AUF Sports Arena in Angeles City.
Thanks largely to Jayson Castro's endgame heroics the Tropang Giga managed to pull off a hard-earned 95-92 win over the Fuel Masters in the opener of their best-of-five semifinals series last Wednesday.
Another victory and a 2-0 lead would push TNT within another win of a return to the finals of the tourney formerly known as the All-Filipino, a place the franchise hasn't been to since winning it all in 2013.
It is undeniable that the Tropa got some help along the way. Foremost among those was Phoenix's Matthew Wright sitting out the majority of that game due to a sprained ankle he suffered just past the midway point of the opening quarter.
As a result, the Fil-Canadian gunner only scored two points and an assist, a far cry from his averages of 22.8 points, 5.3 rebounds and 6.0 dimes during the eliminations and his 32 points and nine assists in the one-game disposal of Magnolia Ang Pambansang Manok in the quarterfinals.
Also, Calvin Abueva got into early foul trouble, limiting his minutes and consequently his effectiveness for the Fuel Masters the rest of the way.
According to Phoenix coach Topex Robinson, Wright would be ready to play Friday and Abueva should have learned his lesson.
Most of all, Robinson drew a silver lining from the loss that immensely adds to his side's positive attitude.
"What's good about Game 1 is, although Matthew only played six minutes, we still gave ourselves a chance to win," said Robinson on the eve of the match.
Tropa coach Bong Ravena said his charges should be ready. "We have to be consistent on our defense because for sure they're gonna come back any time," he said.
"Especially in Game 2, we have to be ready also because babalik iyan, eh. Hindi naman magpapabaya Phoenix. We know that," added Ravena. (NC)