MANILA, Philippines -- Veteran Ryan Reyes was the spark that TNT needed in Game 4 of the PBA Philippine Cup finals, as his efforts in the second quarter helped them pull away from the Magnolia Hotshots.
TNT outscored the Hotshots, 33-15, in the pivotal second frame, turning a 24-all deadlock into a comfortable 57-39 lead at the half. Magnolia couldn't climb out of the hole in the second half as the Tropang GIGA secured a 106-89 win.
Now leading the best-of-seven series 3-1, TNT is on the verge of ending a six-year title drought: their last championship came in the 2015 PBA Commissioner's Cup. Only three members of that team still remain with TNT -- Reyes, Kelly Williams, and Jayson Castro.
"I like it," Reyes said of their chances of closing out the series and finally grabbing another championship.
"(But) like we said, we're taking it one game at a time, focusing on the next game, not really looking too far ahead, making sure that we get this next game," he stressed.
Staying on an even keel has proven crucial for TNT throughout the conference, as they have not gotten too high nor too low even after barreling through the elimination round, and after ousting powerhouse San Miguel Beer in the semifinals.
With just one day in between Games 4 and 5, Reyes said it will be crucial for them to return to practice and make the necessary adjustments.
"We're gonna … adjust the things that we need to get done, the things that we made mistakes, and look through viewing, and just fixing everything so that we can come out with another win in the next game," he said.
TNT has gotten a spectacular series from rookie Mikey Williams, who is averaging 28.5 points on nearly 55% shooting along with 5.5 rebounds and 5 assists per game. But it was the veteran Reyes who spearheaded the Tropang GIGA's breakaway in Game 4 with a vintage performance in the second period.
Reyes scored all 10 of his points in the pivotal quarter, along with all four of his steals. Three of his swipes came in the final minute, as he anchored a blistering 11-0 TNT run that allowed them to enter the half with a comfortable 18-point lead.
He was quick to downplay his effort after the game, stressing that he was simply fulfilling his role and paying back the trust given to him by head coach Chot Reyes.
"Everyone is accountable for just playing hard, playing well. And you know, anyone can get called up and put in the game and we just give it our best," he explained. "And we just play, we give all our effort, and just play – exactly what I did."
It has been an eventful conference for Reyes who started the season on the reserve list but is now a crucial member of the TNT rotation, with averages of 4.7 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.4 steals, and 1.3 assists through 19 games.
Now, however, he is simply concerned about is ending on the right note.
"We just gotta keep going," said Reyes, a six-time PBA champion. "Go back to practice and see what we need to fix and what we need to adjust, and be ready for Game 5."