MANILA, Philippines – As the elimination round of the 2017-18 PBA Philippine Cup enters its final stretch, the TNT KaTropa finds itself in an unfamiliar situation.
With just two games left in their schedule, TNT sits at No. 8 in the league standings with a 4-5 win-loss record. If the All-Filipino playoffs started today, the KaTropa will have a twice-to-beat disadvantage against defending champion San Miguel Beer.
"Hindi kami sanay nang ganito," admitted TNT guard Jayson Castro after they slumped to a 93-78 loss to Barangay Ginebra last Sunday – their second consecutive defeat.
The KaTropa managed to say within striking distance of the Gin Kings for the first three quarters, but clearly ran out of steam in the final frame. They had no answer for the shot-making of LA Tenorio, and left Kevin Ferrer wide open beyond the arc for two booming three-pointers that helped Ginebra seize control.
Castro, who had 17 points but was outplayed by Tenorio all game long, knows that they need to snap out of their funk if they hope to make it to the playoffs.
They still have to play GlobalPort and NLEX, two very dangerous teams, and even just one can send them tumbling down the standings.
"Two straight losses, napakabigat sa amin, especially dikit-dikit 'yung standings," said Castro.
Castro believes that TNT's problem is their inconsistency. The KaTropa has struggled to put together a solid effort in every game, and as a result, they have dropped winnable games to teams like Phoenix and Magnolia.
"Hindi na Xs and Os na puro game plan," said Castro. "Kailangan naming ipakita 'yung effort, na hangga't matapos 'yung game, andoon kami."
"Kasi, palaging pagdating ng fourth quarter – five minutes, three minutes, doon kami nawawala eh," he explained.
As Castro described it, their performances go through peaks and valleys during the course of a single game.
"Maganda, pangit, maganda, pangit. 'Yung effort within a game, bigla na lang mawawala, tapos nandoon," he said.
TNT is up against GlobalPort on Wednesday at the Araneta Coliseum, and Castro said they have to treat the contest like a do-or-die game.
"Hindi na kami pwedeng matalo," he stressed.
For his part, TNT head coach Nash Racela said they have to forget about their two-game skid and instead pour all of their energies into their game against the Batang Pier.
"We just need to break the losing streak. We just have to find ways to win the next one. We don’t really have a choice but to focus on the next game," he said.
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