Mikey Williams (right) will spearhead TNT’s young legs. —PHOTO COURTESY OF PBA IMAGES
Chot Reyes doesn’t feel the need to expound on strengths and weaknesses ahead of his TNT’s clash with Magnolia in a best-of-seven title series for the PBA Philippine Cup.
“That’s not really relevant,” Reyes said. “There are two teams here, and we’re just trying to compete, trying to come out and be better on a game-to-game basis.”
Magnolia’s Chito Victolero also didn’t expound too much on what advantage his team could possibly have against TNT: “Our old core? Maybe, just maybe,” he said.
There is just too much at stake to dwell on anything other than preparing to be the best at game time. The undertow of the championship series is too strong to go on undetected: For the fourth straight conference, the PBA Finals will feature rival powerful conglomerates on each side of the court.
And TNT is very well aware of the rewards that await a successful title conquest in this tournament. The San Miguel Corp. (SMC) group has won the previous three matchups against TNT’s PLDT/Smart bloc. In fact, the SMC trio of teams have combined to win the last 11 conferences in the league.
And Reyes, the former national coach and brains behind the franchise’s dynastic reign at the turn of the last decade, has a chance to break a rival’s stranglehold on championship celebrations.
He certainly has done a good job right in his first conference as the Tropang Giga’s returning coach. TNT lost just once in the elimination round to zoom to the No. 1 seeding. And, as if manufacturing its own basketball omens, eliminated the first two SMC clubs it faced in the playoffs—defending champion Barangay Ginebra and powerhouse San Miguel Beer which, before last year, had won five straight all-Filipino crowns.
Reyes and the Tropang Giga face the final SMC club standing.
And the No. 3 Hotshots are no pushovers.
“[N]o undeserving team gets to this point. Both teams are hard workers. [In terms of] materials, talent, I think both teams are evenly matched,” Victolero said.
Both teams will try to set the series tempo when they clash on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Don Honorio Ventura State University in Bacolor town, Pampanga.
And Reyes, rather than talk about the championship series, wants to plunge into it immediately.
“I think everything has been said. The only thing left now is to get it on,” he said. “Let’s put it all on the floor, and play a series that is worthy of being a gift to our countrymen—something that the two franchises and the PBA family can be proud of.”
As both coaches said, there’s really no point of dwelling on who has the edge in the series. The championship will be won on the floor—and both TNT and Magnolia are eager to hit it.
“Both teams are ready,” said Victolero. “Truly, the winners here are the fans.” INQ