TNT and Magnolia try to put some order today in what has been an unpredictable semifinal duels in the PBA Philippine Cup at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Tropang Giga and Hotshots tote a 3-2 lead over the San Miguel Beermen and Meralco Bolts, respectively, and must close the deal or else relinquish whatever momentum and psychological advantage they may have gained.
It could be easier said than done in both cases.
Meralco’s 102-98 win in Game 5 last Wednesday jacked the Bolts’ record to 2-0 in do-or-die games this year, counting the third and deciding game of their quarterfinal duel with NLEX.
In fact, Meralco has been 5-1 in no-tomorrow games since last year, its only loss coming to eventual champion Ginebra in last year’s Clark bubble semis, and only through a buzzer-beating trey by Scottie Thompson.
For coach Norman Black, it’s all about displaying the same intensity and energy so his charges could at least extend the series to the full route on Sunday.
“I know it’s going to be difficult, Magnolia is going to be really ready for us next game, but we just have to do it one more time,” said Black after the Game 5 win, when the Bolts’ defense and some nifty outside shooting immensely helped their cause.
“I think we have to take the same attitude again, Friday night, do-or-die. There are no tomorrows for us,” added Black.
“We can’t really think about confidence or be too happy with the wins. Instead, we have to focus on what we have to do, simply to beat Magnolia again.”
Black added that his team didn’t dwell too much on the X’s and O’s going to Game 5. “The one good thing about this game is, we didn’t make many adjustments coming into this game,” he said.
“We just played a little bit better than what we played the last game and we were able to stay in the game with our perimeter shooting. If we can shoot the ball well on Friday, I think we’ll also have a good chance of winning that game.”
Also out to put the uncertainties to rest in its duel with SMB is TNT.
The Tropang Giga lived up to the series pattern by winning Game 5 and coach Chot Reyes believes their chances would be greatly enhanced should they display the same tenacity they used in their 110-90 victory last Wednesday.
“The only way we can give ourselves a chance is by putting in excellent effort. I know we cannot play a perfect game, but as long as we put in excellent effort then at least we’d give ourselves a chance,” Reyes said after the bounce back win from a 90-116 loss in Game 4.
“So we’re going to try to predict what their adjustment is going to be,” added Reyes. “But in the end, it’s the players on the court just putting out the extra effort, excellent effort, to give ourselves a chance to win.”