MANILA - TNT coach Bong Ravena felt that his team caught a break on Sunday, when they comfortably defeated Barangay Ginebra, 88-71, in Game 2 of their semifinal series in the 2019 PBA Commissioner's Cup.
Behind a triple-double from Terrence Jones, solid three-point shooting, and pinpoint defense, the KaTropa broke a tight game open in the second quarter and claimed a 2-0 lead in their best-of-5 series. They are on the brink of their first Finals appearance in two years.
Yet for Ravena, the KaTropa were "just lucky" that Ginebra had one of its poorest performances in the conference.
"Ine-expect namin, they will come out strong, 'yun ang pinaghahandaan namin. But we're just lucky they had a bad game. Yeah, next game, preparation, same thing. We expect them to come out strong. So 'yun lang," he said.
"Swerte lang kami, masama lang ang laro nila," he added.
It was a historically poor game for Barangay Ginebra. The 71 points they scored was their lowest output in any game with Justin Brownlee; it was also their lowest out in the playoffs since losing to TNT, 83-67, in the 2015 Philippine Cup quarterfinals.
Brownlee had 25 points, but he shot 12-of-24 from the field and didn't attempt a single free throw. Stanley Pringle was held to only 2 points on 1-of-9 shooting; Ginebra, as a team, made only 5 of 23 three-point attempts and shot just six free throws.
"You gotta give them a lot of credit," Brownlee said of TNT. "You know, we missed some shots today, yeah, but that defense has just been very tough."
TNT's Jones received plenty of credit for his defense on Brownlee in Game 1, a tight 95-92 triumph for the KaTropa. For Brownlee, however, it's not just Jones who has been harassing him into inefficient performances.
"Just their whole team defense. It's just been really good. It's not been an individual. They play really good defense as a team. And these past two games, they've been proving that," said Brownlee.
"So it's not so much as just one player, it's their whole team. They got a lot of guys who can defend, and even their team concept has been really good, and just been giving us a lot of problems," he added.
Ginebra has also struggled to contain the KaTropa in the series. TNT made 14 three-pointers in Game 1, and nailed 16 in Game 2 -- including 11 in the first half alone.
"We just gotta try to guard the three-point line better and hope they miss," said Brownlee. "We gotta make them miss. I think if we can contain some of their three-pointers, I think we'll be pretty good."
Game 3 is on Tuesday at the Mall of Asia Arena.
For more sports coverage, visit the ABS-CBN Sports website.