MANILA, Philippines -- The TNT Tropang GIGA didn't waste any time dwelling on their poor performance against San Miguel Beer in Game 4 of their 2021 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series.
In a game that was virtually over by halftime, the Tropang GIGA absorbed a 116-90 beating, as they allowed the Beermen to shoot nearly 52% from the field while committing 18 turnovers. The result knotted their best-of-seven series at two games apiece.
"If you saw our locker room after the last game, we told our players, 'Okay, just dress quickly and let's get out of here right away, let's forget this ever happened,'" TNT coach Chot Reyes said of their response to the blowout loss.
"Our mindset was simply to forget Game 4 and look at Game 5 as a brand new game, and it was 0-0. We're back to square one in the series, so that was all we were thinking about. We just forgot about Game 4," he added.
There were some lessons that the Tropang GIGA from their defeat in Game 4, but these learnings came as no surprise for Reyes.
Throughout the series, he has touted San Miguel as a powerhouse squad, and stressed that TNT will need to play their best virtually every game in order to win. That was not the case in Game 4, when they played without big man Kelly Williams then lost Poy Erram to injury in the second quarter.
It didn't help that they started out flat, scoring just 14 points in the opening quarter. San Miguel's backup center, Moala Tautuaa, had 10 points to his name in the first period.
"It's hard enough to compete minus one of our big guys. Now you lose our two big guys, and couple that with the fact that we came out flat, that's the learning," Reyes said.
The Tropang GIGA made sure there would be no repeat of that Game 4 letdown in Game 5. Indeed, they turned the tables on SMB as they won convincingly, 110-90. TNT welcomed back Williams, who had 12 points, and got a 10-point, six-rebound effort from Erram who played behind a mask to protect his fractured cheekbone.
Jayson Castro earned Player of the Game honors with 19 points and eight assists.
"I sound like a broken record, but in the end, I've said this from the start -- if we are not able to match the effort of San Miguel, that's what's going to happen, the one that you saw in Game 4, that blowout," said Reyes.
"So our focus has really been, first, to get our effort and our energy levels back up," he added.
The big question now for TNT is how to sustain the momentum of their win. So far in the series, they have alternated wins with San Miguel, and their big loss in Game 4 came just two days after they posted a blowout win in Game 3, 115-98.
Reyes stressed that they will need to submit another "excellent effort" if they hope to close out the Beermen in Game 6.
"I know we cannot play a perfect game, but as long as we put in excellent effort, then at least we give ourselves a chance," the coach said.
"Like I said, kung ia-outwork nila kami, 'yung nangyari last game ang mangyayari talaga. Tambakan, 'di ba?" he added."So, we are going to try to predict what their adjustment is going to be, but in the end, it's the players on the court, just putting out the extra effort, the excellent effort to give ourselves a chance to win."
Game 6 of the series is on Friday at the Don Honorio Ventura State University Gym in Bacolor, Pampanga.