NOW would be the perfect time for Barangay Ginebra to summon that “never-say-die” spirit.
With their conference and title-retention bid on the line the Gin Kings must be propped by their fabled attitude to come up with their usual solid game when they square off anew with the TNT KaTropa Tuesday in their PBA Commissioner’s Cup semifinals duel at the Mall of Asia Arena.
Should TNT prevail anew, it would complete a three-game sweep of the best-of-five duel and advance to its first finals in two years.
Star guard Jayson Castro was quick to temper expectations, however. “As of now, hindi naman namin iniisip na masu-sweep,” said Castro moments after a runaway 88-71 win in Game 2 last Sunday that followed up his TNT side’s 95-92 squeaker in the opener.
“Ang mentality namin, one game at a time. As long as gawin namin trabaho namin at sundin namin game plan namin. Kung ano man ang magiging result, okay kami doon as long as gawin namin ang best namin.”
Ginebra may be in a deep hole that few teams have ever dug themselves out of, but the fighting spirit remains. It’s just a matter of stoking it with the team’s age-old mantra, according to resident import Justin Brownlee.
“Just having that never-say-die type of attitude,” said Brownlee.
“I know coach [Tim Cone] will definitely go make some adjustments now we’re down 0-2. So just come in tomorrow [in practice] and see what he got to say,” added the reigning conference Best Import.
“And then, approach the game with a never-say-die type attitude.”
Cone himself was obviously frustrated with the way his team played last Sunday and offered just few words to fully describe what went terribly wrong for his team in Game 2.
“We played terrible and they played great. I don’t have anything to say,” said Cone as he hurriedly made his way out of the Big Dome.
“Just a bad game. They (Katropa) played well, they got the lead. We’ll see what we can do. Back to the drawing board in Game 3. That’s it. It’s all that I’ve got.”
One needs not be a rocket scientist to put a finger on why TNT won in the first two games.
Turnovers down the stretch cost Ginebra the opener. Last Sunday, it was TNT’s three-point shooting.
The KaTropa went 16-of-44 from beyond the arc to the reigning champions’ 5-of-23. Eleven of those rainbow shots came in the first half as TNT took control before four more came in the fourth quarter that put the game away.
More than the offense, Brownlee was quick to single out TNT’s defense. “Sometimes it’d be like that, but you just gotta give them a lot of credit,” he said.
“You know, we missed some shots today, yeah, but their defense has just been very tough. They got a lot of guys who can defend and even their team concept has been really good. It’s giving us problems.”
None struggled mightily among the Gin Kings than Stanley Pringle. After tallying 18 points in Game 1, Pringle was held to just two points, equaling his career-low, after missing all but one of his nine shots, including all his four treys, on top of committing six turnovers.
“We got to get our offense going, our rhythm going,” said Pringle. “We couldn’t hit shots today. Really, I got to learn to pace myself and get some more rest. We’re going to have to take it game by game. Hopefully, next game.”
According to TNT consultant Mark Dickel, they are not about to change anything in their overall strategy. “That’s our game plan, no matter who we play,” he stated.
“We want to spread the court, try and get lay-ups, and when they helped, kicked out, and our shooters shoot wide open shots,” added the New Zealander.
“We should make those shots, we practice those shots. We’re telling everybody on the team to have the freedom to take those shots. That’s why I’m never surprised when we shoot well. I’m more surprised when we don’t shoot well.” — Source: PBA.PH