MANILA - TNT Tropang GIGA emerged triumphant in their rematch with Barangay Ginebra on Sunday, but head coach Chot Reyes was quick to put the result in perspective.
The Tropang GIGA lost to the Gin Kings in the Finals of the Philippine Cup last year, but they were impressive in their elimination round encounter on Sunday, clobbering the defending champions 88-67. Rookie Mikey Williams shone in the rout, dropping 27 points.
Reyes credited their victory to their preparation for Ginebra's offense. The Gin Kings shot only 36% from the field, and committed 21 turnovers. Their big guns were inefficient: Stanley Pringle had 12 points on 5-of-15 shooting, Christian Standhardinger had 14 points on 6-of-12 shooting, and LA Tenorio went scoreless after missing all 13 of his field goals.
"We all know how clinical and precise they run the triangle, and how patient they are," Reyes said. "We had to make sure that we're able to contain their twin towers, and their twin guards."
"That's the difficulty playing Ginebra. You have to worry about Japeth (Aguilar) and Christian. And as well, you have to worry about LA and Pringle. And then there's a Scottie Thompson on the wings. So we just wanted to make sure that we found a way to contain their offense," he added.
As impressive as their performance was, Reyes stressed that they cannot dwell on it and must instead shift their focus on what comes next.
TNT is already assured of a spot in the quarterfinals of the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, and their 8-1 win-loss record puts them on track for a Top 2 finish that carries with it a twice-to-beat advantage.
"We just want to make sure that we keep our focus on what's in front of us," said Reyes. "As you know, every game day, what's in front of us is … the antigen test. Sa amin, 'yun ang unang-unang pinaka-importante."
"And then we focus now on the task at hand, which is the game at hand. So you know, we're not really looking too far ahead," he stressed. "I think these are times where your ability to address what's in front of you is what's important. So, 'yun lang ang iniisip. Hindi namin muna iniisip 'yung record, or 'yung future."
The game against Ginebra, Reyes stressed, is still just "one game."
"We're still a long way from, you know, the conclusion of this tournament. So we just want to make sure, like I said earlier, just focus on what's in front of us," he added.
Ultimately, Reyes is proud not because of their big margin of victory against the Gin Kings, but because they achieved what they set out to do ahead of the game.
"In our board before the game, ang laki ng sinulat namin doon -- 'better.' So we just wanted to make sure that we're better in this ball game than last game," Reyes said. "Hopefully, we find ways to continue getting better."
"'Yun lang ang iniisip namin at this point."
The win against Ginebra was TNT's second straight since absorbing their first loss of the conference against San Miguel.
The Gin Kings, meanwhile, lost for the second straight game and dropped to ninth place in the league standings. Only the top eight at the end of the elimination round will advance to the playoffs.