MANILA, Philippines -- TNT Tropang GIGA on Wednesday secured the No. 1 seed in the 2021 PBA Philippine Cup, but head coach Chot Reyes made it clear that their mission is far from over.
Behind a career game from Kib Montalbo (22 points) and another big performance from rookie Mikey Williams (29 points, five assists), the Tropang GIGA shrugged off a sluggish start to take down NorthPort, 102-92.
That win hiked their record to 9-1 and assured them of the No. 1 seed in the quarterfinals, which carries with it a twice-to-beat advantage against the eighth-seeded team.
"In any tournament, you want to grab any advantage that you can. So, all that this means for us is that we have an advantage," Reyes said after the game. "That advantage is not gonna mean anything if we don't take advantage of that advantage."
"Of course, we'd rather be twice-to-beat than need to beat somebody twice, but like I said, the job is far, far from over," he stressed.
Reyes noted that even in their victory against NorthPort, they saw plenty of areas for improvement.
The Batang Pier were short-handed as they played without Greg Slaughter and Sean Anthony, but they still controlled most of the first half before Williams put TNT ahead with a three-pointer to close the second quarter.
"We came out real flat and they kinda punched us in the mouth," Williams said of the Batang Pier.
"Like Mikey said, they came out with a lot of energy, giving us a lot of problems. We knew we were in for a battle because this team, they're tall, they're athletic, they're long," said Reyes. "This was a very bad match-up for us. So I'm just glad we were able to grind out the W."
Williams conspired with Montalbo to fuel the Tropang GIGA's charge in the second half. The pair combined for 21 points in the pivotal third quarter where TNT outscored NorthPort, 34-23, to take control of the game. The Tropang GIGA eventually led by as much as 17 points late, 100-83.
Their performance against NorthPort shows that they "need to still get better," Reyes said.
The Tropang GIGA will close out their elimination round campaign on Saturday against the Alaska Aces, after which they will wait and see who they will play in the quarterfinals.
"It's nice to be in the position we're in," Reyes said. "But… this tournament is still a long ways from being even done, so we're just not thinking about that too much and we just want to focus on continuing to get better tonight."