PBA: Wright's absence, Abueva's foul woes not a reason for TNT to relax, says coach

Camille B. Naredo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 18 2020 08:10 PM

PBA: Wright's absence, Abueva's foul woes not a reason for TNT to relax, says coach 1
TNT's Roger Pogoy drives against the defense of Phoenix Super LPG forward Jason Perkins. PBA Media Bureau. 

MANILA, Philippines -- The TNT Tropang Giga knew they could not afford to relax against Phoenix Super LPG even after the Fuel Masters' rotation took a hit in Game 1 of their 2020 PBA Philippine Cup semifinals series on Wednesday.

Matthew Wright, Phoenix Super LPG's leading scorer, made an early exit from the game after spraining his right ankle. He left with a little over five minutes left in the first quarter, and although he had his ankle re-taped, he was not sent back to the game.

To make matters worse for the Fuel Masters, Calvin Abueva was called for three fouls in the first quarter alone and played just limited minutes. 

"We know they're not gonna give up," TNT head coach Bong Ravena said of the Fuel Masters. "They're going to stay in the game, because they're not gonna run out of energy."

"So we just keep the game, especially on our defense, that's what, you know, won the game," he added.

The Tropang Giga eventually hacked out a 95-92 win, but it was not a comfortable victory for them even with the Fuel Masters playing at less than 100%.

RJ Jazul made some big baskets, and Abueva's energy and hustle gave Phoenix Super LPG a lift in the fourth frame. Ultimately, TNT needed the clutch heroics of Jayson Castro to finally put the Fuel Masters away in the first game of the semifinal series.

Ravena stressed that even when Wright exited the game and with Abueva dealing with foul trouble, the Tropang Giga never took their foot off the pedal. 

"Same pa rin 'yung energy (na) kailangan na ilalaro namin," he said. "Hindi kami pwedeng mag-relax eh. Alam namin, before the game pa naman, 'yun lang naman ang iniisip namin eh. We have to match their energy."

"So, even without Matthew and foul trouble of Calvin, hindi kami nag-relax. Doon lang kami nag-ano sa depensa eh. So we have to be consistent on our defense," he added.

After seeing how Phoenix Super LPG kept in step with them even without their stars, Ravena said that maintaining their energy and defensive intensity will be all the more crucial come Game 2.

"This Game 2, we have to be ready also, because babalik 'yan eh. Hindi naman magpapabaya 'yung Phoenix eh, we know that," he said.

Game 2 of the best-of-five series is on Friday, still at the Angeles University Foundation Gym in Angeles City, Pampanga. 

Related video: 

Watch more on iWantTFC