TNT shoots for 3-0 lead

Published October 24, 2021, 8:36 AM

by Jonas Terrado

Photo from PBA

TNT is bracing for a much-better response from Magnolia Pambansang Manok when it aims to gain a commanding 3-0 lead Sunday, Oct. 24 in Game 3 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.

The Tropang Giga look to put the stranglehold on the best-of-seven championship series in the 4:35 p.m. match after posting back-to-back victories, including a 105-93 decision two days earlier.

But coach Chot Reyes said the Game 2 outcome didn’t reflect how TNT came close to almost seeing a huge lead go to waste after Magnolia cut a 21-point deficit in the second quarter down to four in the payoff period.

It took some shots from finals top performer Mikey Williams to prevent Magnolia from stealing the game.

“We expect a close game every single game in this series. We’re not going to change that expectation going to Game 3,” said Reyes.

TNT led 40-27 at the end of the first quarter after erupting for 10 three-pointers, with three coming from Williams and two each from Jayson Castro, Ryan Reyes and Brian Heruela.

But the Tropang Giga cooled off after extending the gap to 21 in the second quarter as the Hotshots made their run in the second half behind Ian Sangalang.

“We have to be better. And our whole focus (in Game 2) was to be better than we were in Game 1. I think we were able to do it in the first half but in the second half, it left a lot to be desired,” Reyes said.

“So we need to go back and take a look, and again just endeavor to be better in Game 3,” he added.

Attention will be on Williams, who has been huge for TNT in the first two games with averages of 24.5 points on 51-percent shooting. His biggest weapon has been the three-point shot, making 10 of 15 from beyond the arc.

And it seems that every player Reyes has put in had done at least a solid job, from Castro, Poy Erram, RR Pogoy, Troy Rosario and Kelly Williams to Heruela, Reyes and even Glenn Khobuntin.

These things are something Magnolia would like to at least limit, but plenty of issues have hounded coach Chito Victolero since the start of the finals.

Ian Sangalang shrugged off back spasms to score 25 points in a losing effort, but Paul Lee has struggled with an injured shoulder hounding him at this point of the conference while also hurting his leg in Game 2.

Calvin Abueva has posted similar 11-point, 11-rebound games in the series but has been inconsistent and even erratic at times for the Hotshots. He was also affected by foul trouble in Game 2.

The Hotshots will be looking to begin a comeback from a 0-2 deficit which had happened numerous times in the past.