TNT had to play brilliant basketball on both sides of the field to hold off a mission from San Miguel Beer, explaining Chot Reyes’ concerns right after Tropang Giga’s Game 1 89-88 win in the PBA Philippine Cup semi-final on Sunday. .
“Hopefully we can keep going” [our ways] in a long series like this,” he said. “[The Beermen are] so deep, they are well coached. All we can do is really put ourselves in a position to compete and put ourselves in a position to win.”
Fortunately for the top seeds, they only get better.
The Tropang Giga dove into the series opener like a leash: Mikey Williams, the conference’s best player leader, played against defensive whiz kid Chris Ross, prompting him to contribute in other ways. Meanwhile, Kelly Williams of the former Most Valuable Player league missed the match due to health and safety protocols.
By the time the ball is thrown for the opening jump in the 3 p.m. Game 2 clash at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga, TNT’s shrewd rookie guard would most likely have figured out how to work around Ross and be more active offensively. could be. Meanwhile, Williams, the grizzled veteran who provides ceiling and cover, should give the Tropang Giga another defensive dimension against the Beermen, who will surely try to avoid falling into a precarious playoff hole.
“I think we could shoot better,” said Reyes, whose divisions were only 40 percent from the field in Game 1 (36 of 90), with Williams, the super rookie, who managed just seven points at 3- out-12 shooting from the floor (25 percent). “But in the end it all starts with the effort. Playing with a lot of effort gives us a chance.”
Things also get spicier during the other Final Four matchup, with Magnolia bracing for a vengeful Meralco in the match scheduled for 6 p.m.
“This is the semi-finals, so we expect every game to be a grueling one,” said Hotshots coach Chito Victolero.
“We know it won’t be easy [advancing],” he added. “As we always tell ourselves, if you don’t try your best, you’re really going to lose.”
Magnolia also played through restrictions in that earlier game, but still found ways to take an 88-79 win.
Neck-deep in the race for the best individual plum with TNT guard Williams, Calvin Abueva had to play through foul play, forcing Victolero to deal with a “messed up rotation”.
Fortunately, his other attackers were ready and capable. Jack Corpuz, Rome dela Rosa and Aris Dionisio kept Magnolia afloat, allowing the club to redeploy its all-rounder in the most crucial times.
And Victolero is confident that the rest of his charges will fall through the cracks.
“I like the attitude of my players. I like their discipline,” he said. “We hope for the same as the series continues.” INQ
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