These things almost cost them a victory last night
TNT must avoid any kind of shooting woes against Ginebra. (Photo by the PBA Media Bureau)
If anything, last night's game between the Talk N Text KaTropa against the Rain or Shine Elasto Painters was indeed, a long one for both teams as neither was certain of the outcome until J'Nathan Bullock threw a bad pass, turning the ball over and fouling out in the dying seconds of the game. That sequence took the life out of the Elasto Painters as they came out short.
Given how ugly the game was especially in the second half when TNT was struggling to make shots but was able to stick around within striking distance, they cannot simply afford to play exactly the same way especially when you're up against the defending champions, Barangay Ginebra Gin Kings, in the semifinals. Sure, TNT unmercifully dismantled the Gin Kings in their final game in the elimination round but that was a long time ago. We are now in the semifinals of the Governors' Cup. Things here are different compared to the elimination round and the quarterfinals. Here, both teams will have identical paths. The first team to win 3 games, goes on to the Finals. Simple. And not especially for TNT.
For the players of Head Coach Nash Racela, playing against the crowd darlings will be a huge challenge because Racela just took over the coaching job of the KaTropa at the start of the season while Tim Cone is no doubt, a coach whose resume is already filled with multiple championships and Grand Slams. In addition to this, TNT surprisingly traded away some of its longtime players including Larry Fornacier to the NLEX Road Warriors and Ranidel De Ocampo to the Meralco Bolt which is one reason why the chemistry in the team has been shaken off a little bit.
To have a decent chance to at least, challenge the Gin Kings, the KaTropa must avoid the following things they did in last night's game because if they are to them again in the semifinals, they are off to an early vacation:
Last night, Jayson Castro had 20 points but 12 of those points came from the free throw line. While there's nothing wrong in scoring most of your points from the charity stripe, you can't just make 3 of your 11 shots in the field and expect to win against Ginebra. Yep, Jayson Castro's view was blurry as he only made 3 out of his 11 attempts including 2 of 7 from rainbow country. Roger Pogoy also shot poorly especially beyond the arc where he missed 8 of his 10 attempts in that area. TNT won last night despite Rain or Shine shooting better in the field. The KaTropa will need everyone on board to have a good field goal percentage and avoid getting themselves buried in shooting slumps.
Rely heavily on the starters
Let's put it this way: if Glen Rice Jr. wasn't on the court to pick up Jayson Castro's missed 3-point attempt during the dying seconds and score on a putback, it could have altered the outcome. Both players had to log 40 minutes because only Anthony Semerad had a respectable 3 of 4 shooting night, good for his 8 points off the bench before fouling out late in the 4th. TNT must find a way not to force its starters to play heavy minutes because come clutch situations, fatigue will play a critical part and in situations like these especially during the semifinals against the defending champions, the fresher your legs are, the better you can perform. The bench players of TNT will play a vital role because they can help take off some of the offensive load from Castro and Rice Jr. to help them stay fresh come the 4th quarter