TNT coach Chot Reyes is glad that his team has the twice-to-beat advantage as he braces for a difficult challenge against Barangay Ginebra San Miguel in the PBA Governors’ Cup quarterfinals.
The Tropang Giga needed to gut it out in overtime to outlast the NorthPort Batang Pier, 106-101, and clinch the twice-to-beat as the No. 3 seed in the quarterfinals.
When informed of having to face the No. 6 ranked Gin Kings, Reyes could only react as if it was a bitter reward for a hard day’s work.
“Papakamatay ka manalo para makalaban Ginebra,” Reyes said before the formal post-game press conference began inside the media room of the Smart Araneta Coliseum.
Ginebra remains a tough cookie to crack even if went on a rollercoaster elims with a 6-5 record. The Gin Kings won their first three games, then lost four in a row before wrapping up the quarters berth by taking three of the last four.
“Yun nga sinabi ko e, we did everything we could to win this game only to face Ginebra in the next round of the playoffs,” Reyes said with a chuckle.
But if there’s anything Reyes and the Tropang Giga can take solace in is their recent success against the Gin Kings.
TNT literally sent Ginebra home last conference with a convincing win in a quarterfinal encounter between the No. 1 and No. 8 seeds, the 84-71 result in Bacolor, Pampanga became one of the stepping stones in the Tropang Giga’s successful rum towards the Philippine Cup title.
Ginebra also fell victim this conference, when TNT rolled to a 27-point rout as part of its current five-game winning run.
Those results, however, mean nothing for TNT as it begins the next phase of the quest to sweep this season’s two conferences.
“We’re playing the team with the resident Best Import so we just have to get ready. We have no choice,” Reyes said, referring to Ginebra’s Justin Brownlee who is perhaps the motor that runs the Gin Kings.
“It's going to take much, much better defensive effort for us to be able to beat a team like Ginebra.”
TNT finished 7-4 for a three-way tie with Meralco and San Miguel to close out the elims, securing the incentive by virtue of having the superior quotient.
The Tropang Giga bucked a busy elims that included a stretch of four games in seven days, a stint of some players with Gilas Pilipinas in the FIBA World Cup Asian Qualifiers to overcome a 2-4 start.
Super rookie Mikey Williams and import Aaron Fuller have picked up his game in the best time possible, Jayson Castro, Kib Montalbo and Kelly Williams have stepped up while RR Pogoy came back after dealing with an injured calf before the Asian Qualifiers.