MANILA – TNT coach Nash Racela admits that the KaTropa were outplayed by the better team after they bowed to the San Miguel Beermen in the 2017 PBA Commissioner's Cup Finals on Sunday at the Big Dome.
Facing a must-win situation after going down 2-3 in the best-of-seven series, the KaTropa were unable to rise to the occasion, instead falling 91-115 against a dominant San Miguel team in Game 6.
"Of course, it's not the way we wanted it to end, but ganoon talaga eh," Racela said afterwards. "That's life."
"Sometimes, you plan for things, but God knows better. Ang importante sa amin, as long as we know in our hearts that we gave it our best shot, dapat okay kami," he added.
TNT was right in the thick of the fight until late in the first quarter, when the Beermen stepped on the gas pedal and roared to an 11-point lead, 37-26. Their advantage ballooned to 20 points, 62-42, at the half, and try as they might, the KaTropa were never able to truly threaten again.
Most of the fourth quarter turned out to be extended garbage time, with SMB going up by as much as 29 points, 113-84. The Beermen finished the game shooting 51% from the field, and made 12 of their 29 triples while turning TNT's 21 turnovers into 30 points.
Racela could do naught but applaud the Beermen's performance after the game.
"To tell you honestly, San Miguel played almost a perfect game today," he acknowledged.
It was a testament to the Beermen's character, Racela said, that they came up with their best effort during a closeout game.
"It's hard to beat a team like San Miguel; alam mo naman na malakas 'yang team na 'yan. It's actually us who needed to play perfectly," he said.
"But well, again, that's the character of their team – that's why they're the champions. Kung kailan mo kailangan, that's when they suddenly play well," he added.
Despite their Finals loss, Racela still took away plenty of positives from their campaign in the Commissioner's Cup. After all, it was only his second full conference in charge of the KaTropa, and they made it all the way to the championship round.
"Just getting to the Finals is a positive thing," he said. "Based on this conference, you were better than 10 other teams. It just so happened that one team is still better than us."
"Sa amin lang, the learning is we have to be better next time," he added. "Hopefully, we get another chance."