Mar 30, 2023

Pumped-up Tropa go for clincher vs embattled Bolts

THE PBA Governors' Cup Finals have been a playground for Barangay Ginebra and Meralco in the last few years.

The TNT Tropang Giga try to break the tradition, hoping to make Last Dance and be the challenger to the three-peat bid of the Gin Kings.

Two-games-to-one up and pumped-up, the Tropa seek the clincher versus the embattled Bolts in Game 4 of their best-of-five semifinal showdown at the Smart Araneta Coliseum Wednesday.

Game time is at 5:45 p.m. with coach Jojo Lastimosa and his troops bracing for war, expecting the Bolts to put up a tough resistance.

"For sure, it's going to be a hard game, a dogfight, a battle, and whoever comes out the winner, they're going to be bloodied," said the interim TNT mentor.

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Lastimosa has a chance to go all the way to the title playoff in his first try as a head coach but he's not looking far ahead, insisting they still have a tough job at hand versus coach Norman Black and his Bolts.

"I've been in situations where I played and where I was an assistant coach and the closeout game is always hard," said Lastimosa.

"For some reason, there's just a different feel when you're trying to close out because we know the other team is also desperate; at the same time, we don't want to force the issue. We'll try to close it out and see how it goes."

And for sure, the Bolts are not yet about to raise the white flag.
But Black admits they have to do a better job.

From a 124-117 win in overtime in Game 2, the Bolts came out flat and were bamboozled by the Tropa, 99-80, Wednesday night.
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"They (TNT) were able to establish their game immediately and their import pretty much dominated the first half. We tried to make a little bit of recovery in the second half but we're just down by too many to really get back into the game," rued Black.

"I thought KJ (McDaniels) was exceptional in Game 2 and he was dominating that game and (Rondae Hollis) Jefferson was exceptional and dominating in Game 3. So hopefully, KJ will bounce back in Game 4 and we play better as a team," Black also said.

Hollis-Jefferson asserted himself and collected 40 points and 13 rebounds as against McDaniels 30 points and 10 boards in the last outing. (SB)