Aug 02, 2022

Hotshots, Tropang Giga all psyched up for rematch

EXPECT an intense collision between two equally-determined combatants when TNT and Magnolia collide Wednesday at the start of their PBA Philippine Cup semifinals duel at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.

No less than Hotshots coach Chito Victolero thinks so. "It's gonna be a dogfight," he said.

"Magandang matchup kasi both teams halos pareho style. Defensive mindset, pressure defense, kasi guards nila pesky din."

"We're playing the hottest team in the league, winning nine of their last 10 games," countered Tropang Giga coach Chot Reyes. "It will take our best to be competitive."

Adding spice to the best-of-seven duel is the fact it is a rematch of last year's finals, in which TNT emerged champion after needing just five games to dispose of Magnolia.

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The Tropa also beat the Hotshots, 78-72, in their lone elimination round meeting last June 5 but for Reyes what matters now is how his team fares this time around after showing a couple of perceived kinks in a 116-95 win over Converge last week, when the Tropa committed 19 turnovers and gave up 16 offensive rebounds to the FiberXers.

"That's way too much so that's one definite area we have to improve on," Reyes pointed out before adding: "Whoever it is we're playing in the semifinals would be a strong rebounding team so we need to do a better job on the boards."

Victolero has his own basic gameplan sorted out. "I think we'll just try to focus more on our defensive schemes as a team. Kasi doon kami nagkaroon ng winning streak," he said.

"When we focused on our defense naging maganda takbo namin. Kaya ngayon doon kami naka-focus, kung saan kami malakas."

Main target of Magnolia's defensive schemes should be TNT spitfire Mikey Williams, who torched the Hotshots for 27.6 points, 5.2 rebounds, and 4.8 assists en route to winning the Finals MVP last year and is coming off a 26-point performance in that quarterfinals win over Converge.

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"Titingnan namin kung ano 'yung magiging resulta ng una naming magiging defensive scheme sa kanya," said Victolero.

"It's a long series naman pero of course important pa rin Game One," added Victolero. "We'll try to see first kung 'yung ginawa naming preparation para sa kanya okay. Kapag hindi back to the drawing board." (NC)