MANILA - The TNT Tropang GIGA have been on a roll in the 2022 PBA Philippine Cup even with key players missing time due to an assortment of injuries.
For head coach Chot Reyes, this is a credit to their reserves -- their so-called "kurimaw boys" -- who prepared early for the All-Filipino Conference in anticipation of this exact scenario.
"The way this team was constructed was precisely for situations like this," Reyes said after the Tropang GIGA outlasted NorthPort, 117-112, last Wednesday.
"As you know, medyo madami na kaming tanders, 'di ba. So we knew that we would deal with injuries," he added. "We knew that we would have quite a lot of aches and pains and hurts and injuries."
The Tropang GIGA have been playing without Troy Rosario for the past three games, with Reyes explaining that their veteran forward is dealing with "wear and tear." Another veteran, Ryan Reyes, has also missed three games.
Meanwhile, the likes of Jaydee Tungcab and Glenn Khobuntin have also dealt with injury woes of their own; Khobuntin played less than five minutes in a 114-86 demolition of TerraFirma last Friday.
Yet amid all their injury issues, TNT has won seven of their first nine games, including five straight. At 7-2, they are already assured of a spot in the quarterfinals of the All-Filipino Conference.
"What we call our kurimaw boys, we had them come in earlier talaga, while the main veterans, the mainstays were getting extended rest," Reyes explained. "We made the group of JJay Alejandro, Carl Bryan Cruz, Dave Marcelo, Khobuntin and Gab Banal, Matt Ganuelas-Rosser, we made them come in earlier talaga."
"So they came in and reported for practice, maybe two weeks before practice. So we really thought na kailangan namin 'yung depth, their services as the season progresses," he added.
Already, that decision is paying dividends for TNT as their reserves are giving great contributions in their recent games.
Alejandro, notably, has stepped up. The guard scored 12 points against NorthPort then added 11 in their rout of the Dyip. They also got seven rebounds, three assists, three steals and three blocks from Ganuelas-Rosser against TerraFirma, as he stepped up in place of Khobuntin.
"We're fortunate that Matt did an excellent job in that spot because without Troy and without Glenn, it's important that we have guys stepping forward," said Reyes after their win against the Dyip on Friday.
"JJay has been very big for us the whole tournament," the coach also said. "Jaydee [Tungcab] had a good practice yesterday, so he earned his minutes today."
TNT will finish their elimination round assignments with dates against San Miguel on July 7 and against Barangay Ginebra on July 10. Some members of their team are expected to reinforce the Philippine national team in the upcoming FIBA Asia Cup, giving more responsibility to their reserves as they gear up for the All-Filipino playoffs.