By JONAS TERRADO
TNT is hoping to play a better version of itself despite drawing first blood as it goes for a 2-0 lead over Magnolia Pambansang Manok Hotshots Friday in Game 2 of the PBA Philippine Cup Finals at the Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor, Pampanga.
The Tropang Giga aim to make it two in a row over the Hotshots at 6 p.m. following a dominant opening act two days earlier when they leaned on a sizzling start on their way to an 88-70 victory.
But coach Chot Reyes said taking Game 1 with nary a trouble is not an indication of how the series will end up which is why TNT is looking to fix some kinks in its armor.
“We wanted to be better in the finals than we were in the semifinals,” said Reyes. “Because I thought that if we just come into the finals and just put in the same game as we did in the semis, then we’re going to be in trouble.
“So, our entire focus is just to get better. Same thing in Game 2, how can we be better in Game 2 than we were here, in Game 1,” added Reyes.
Rookie guard Mikey Williams, who erupted for 21 points on 8-of-15 shooting after a roller-coaster shooting performance in the semifinal series win over San Miguel Beer, had a more detailed explanation as to how TNT can play better.
“I definitely feel like we gotta clean up some things on defense, and definitely, we gotta figure out a way to get on the boards more. If we limit the offensive boards for them, I feel like we’ll put ourselves in a good position to win a game,” he said.
“But if we clean up those things, I think we’ll be fine. So we just gotta get back to the drawing board and gotta figure out a way to get that done.”
Magnolia, on the other hand, is eager to make up for allowing TNT to go up 20-2 at the start of the series opener, a run that contributed to a PBA Finals record 28-percent shooting and conference-high 28 turnovers.
A more pressing issue perhaps for both teams is the condition of their starting centers who are dealing with injuries.
TNT’s Kelly Williams left in the third quarter due to back spasms while trying to go for a breakaway dunk. The veteran cager left the DHVSU campus on a stretcher.
Magnolia’s Ian Sangalang is also nursing the same injury, which was the reason why he played only 10 minutes in Game 1.
Sangalang’s situation could be more crucial for the Hotshots as they can’t afford to lose one of the main players in the series.