MANILA, Philippines – TNT just could not catch a break.
Already in danger of missing the quarterfinals, the Tropang Giga lost import Cameron Oliver to a knee injury in the most inconvenient time with the elimination round nearing its end.
TNT severely missed Oliver as it absorbed a sorry 89-85 loss to Barangay Ginebra and slipped to 4-6 for ninth place – a spot outside the playoff picture.
“He got injured last game and then the MRI showed he sprained his right knee,” Reyes said. “He is out for two weeks minimum. It could be one month.”
The former NBA player has been a solid reinforcement, averaging 28.9 points, 13.7 rebounds, 3.6 assists, and 1.8 blocks through nine games.
But even with their import putting up those impressive numbers, the Tropang Giga have struggled and lost four of their last five matches, with TNT beating only erstwhile winless Terrafirma during that stretch.
Still, having Oliver could have pushed the Tropang Giga past the red-hot Gin Kings for a 5-5 record, which would have put them at sixth place.
“Just not having an import is such a huge handicap to overcome. But I’m very pleased with the effort of the players. We fought hard. We never gave up, we fought until the last [second],” said Reyes.
With Oliver likely out for the rest of the elimination round, TNT is reportedly bringing in 6-foot-4 guard Matt Mobley as replacement.
On Monday, Mobley posted on Instagram a picture of him together with Oliver and Tropang Giga team manager Jojo Lastimosa paying Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao a visit at his home.
TNT faces a tall order in its bid to catch the quarterfinals bus as it battles top seed Bay Area on November 23 and powerhouse San Miguel on November 26 for its last two games in the elimination round. – Rappler.com