Banged-up TNT goes for the kill against Magnolia Pambansang Manok Friday, Oct. 28 in Game 5 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Tropang Giga are eager to finish off the Hotshots in the 6 p.m. match and win their first PBA championship since the 2015 Commissioner’s Cup and end San Miguel Corporation’s streak of 11 straight titles.
TNT has three chances to claim its sixth All-Filipino crown and eighth overall, but coach Chot Reyes kept harping on needing to play better than in their previous three victories.
“We just have to go back to what we’ve been doing the whole year and that is to get better,” he said. “We need to find a way to be better than we were (in Game 4) — better effort, better execution, better energy — and then we’ll see what happens.
“We can’t think of too many things. We just really have to keep our focus laser-like. We just need to get better,” added Reyes, who is eyeing to complete a triumph return to the PBA coaching ranks and win his ninth championship.
Only Ginebra back in the 1991 First Conference Finals has ever come from a 3-1 deficit after losing Game 4 to win the championship, and Magnolia is out to begin the first step towards making history.
For TNT, it hopes to get the job done after a conference that saw several players battle through injuries.
TNT’s 106-89 win in Game 4 saw Troy Rosario play 19 minutes despite nursing a spinal shock and dislocated finger that came from a bad fall the previous match while Kelly Williams hurt his back anew and Jayson Castro twisted his ankle late in the fourth.
Poy Erram continues to play despite fracturing his cheekbone against San Miguel Beer in the semis.
“It’s the finals and teams just have to find a way to play through injuries,” Reyes said. “We’ve been doing it. Kelly’s been doing it. Poy Erram has been doing it with a fractured cheekbone. Same thing with Troy Rosario with a dislocated finger. So, we just need to do whatever it takes. And we know, the final one, the closer is the most difficult one.”
TNT will try to once again make almost every player step up like in Game 4 and provide support to the splendid championship series showing of rookie guard Mikey Williams.
Williams is averaging 28.5 points with a shooting percentage of .547 while adding 5.5 rebounds and 5.0 assists.
Veterans Ryan Reyes and Jayson Castro, reserve guard Kib Montalbo and backup center Dave Marcelo were among those who keyed TNT’s Game 4 rout even as Magnolia couldn’t back up Calvin Abueva’s 28-point effort.
But Abueva, Ian Sangalang, Paul Lee, Mark Barroca, Jio Jalalon, Rome dela Rosa and Rafi Reavis are keen on keeping Magnolia’s slim title hopes alive and extend the series to a sixth game.