TNT has put Magnolia on the ropes and is now just a step closer to booking a return trip to the PBA Philippine Cup finals.
The Tropang Giga are now bracing for their toughest game yet but have also given the Hotshots lots of problem and so little time to come up with answers in order to at least extend their semifinals duel Friday at the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Back-to-back wins gave TNT a commanding 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series and would like nothing more than to close out the series against the same team it beat in last year's championship series.
Game time is 3 p.m.
Coach Chot Reyes knows they are about to have their hands full. "There's nothing much to be said," he quipped following his Tropa's 102-84 win just last Wednesday that was in stark contrast to their 93-92 squeaker in Game 3.
"They know the most difficult win to get in any series is the No. 4 (win)," added Reyes. "We have to be extra ready for it."
Such determination is sure to be equaled by Magnolia. But first, the Hotshots need to solve some issues, foremost of which is playing their usual tenacious defense without being whistled for fouls.
"I don't know what we will adjust but that's our game, e. From the elimination hanggang sa rito we just try to play our defense but we're always in foul trouble," said Magnolia coach Chito Victolero after Game 4.
"My key players like Calvin (Abueva), Ian (Sangalang), Paul (Lee), they're always in foul trouble. I don't know how we can adjust," continued Victolero.
"For the last two games, 'yan na 'yun, e. Palagi kaming foul trouble. That is the key, we need to play defense because that's our strength. Kung hindi kami makakadepensa, wala kaming chance dito."
Reyes and the rest of TNT have no such problems. The Tropa even shrugged off Mikey Williams being held to just three points in the first three quarters of Game 4 by relying mostly on the likes of Poy Erram, Roger Pogoy and Glenn Khobuntin in taking a 70-54 lead into the fourth period and stretching that to a high of 95-72.
"Mikey is a big part of the team, but he is not the only part of the team," stressed Reyes. "Huge credit to the guys who continue to step forward and take up the cudgels. They're doing an excellent job defending him but that gives the other guys like Poy opportunities. We're just taking advantage of the opportunities presented by their extra concentration on Mikey defensively."
That is one particular concern that nags at Victolero. "Of course, meron din kaming mga mali. We're not finger-pointing here. It's all about us, kung paano kami makaka-adjust sa ganyan. And even on our offense also, we need to adjust," he said. (NC)