PBA Philippine Cup

Wary TNT took no chances in quick dethroning of shorthanded Ginebra

JR Isaga
Wary TNT took no chances in quick dethroning of shorthanded Ginebra

OVERPOWERED. The TNT Tropang Giga make things tough for Christian Standhardinger and Ginebra early.

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'Alam namin na ‘pag binigyan namin sila ng chance, talagang 50-50 na ‘yan pagdating ng second game,' says TNT forward Troy Rosario of Ginebra

Back in the 2020 PBA Philippine Cup finals, Barangay Ginebra wasted little time in their title quest, and handed the undermanned TNT Tropang Giga a five-game gentleman’s sweep to win their first All-Filipino title in 13 years.

Playing with a hobbled Jayson Castro, and without superstar Ray Parks, TNT struggled against a complete Kings side that banked on a core of Scottie Thompson, Japeth Aguilar, Best Player of the Conference Stanley Pringle, and eventual Finals MVP LA Tenorio.

However, the tables have completely turned since that historic bubble championship nine months ago, and Ginebra’s 2021 title defense was mercifully ended by TNT in one emphatic quarterfinal blowout, 84-71.

This time it was the Gin Kings who were lacking key cogs, namely Thompson and Aguilar, and the Tropang Giga simply took no chances in sending their rivals home for good.

Talagang ‘yung unang sinabi sa amin ni coach kanina sa pregame, ‘yung urgency. How bad do we want it today?” said TNT forward Troy Rosario after the win.

“Alam namin na ‘pag binigyan namin sila ng chance, talagang 50-50 na ‘yan pagdating ng second game. So nalagpasan namin ‘yung challenge ngayon. On to the next one.

(Coach really pressed for urgency in the pregame earlier. How bad do we want it today? We know that if we give them a chance, it’ll really be a 50-50 game in the second one. So we got through that challenge today. On to the next one.)

Even after nearly a decade since his last PBA playoff game, returning head coach Chot Reyes is still fully aware of the danger a “never say die” underdog Ginebra squad possesses.

“Very tough. First of all, I would like to congratulate coach Tim Cone and his coaching staff. Facing the manpower shortages that they have, they came out with a good game plan. They made it very very difficult,” said the multi-titled tactician.

“We’re not kidding ourselves. I’m sure every team in the league would not want to face Ginebra in the quarterfinals, more so if they had a complete roster. Then again, if they had a complete roster, I doubt they’d be in eighth place. But it is what it is.”

Reyes also knows that the journey is far from over after the Kings’ dethroning, as either the returning San Miguel dynasty, or the high-octane offense of NorthPort are up ahead in the semifinals.

“NorthPort, if you remember our elimination round game, they gave us a lot of problems,” he said. “San Miguel kicked our butt in the elimination round. I mean, it wasn’t even close. They beat us, and they beat us badly.”

“We just beat the defending champions, but San Miguel is what, the five-time champion before Ginebra won last conference. We just finished one problem, so it’s on to the next.” – Rappler.com