As far as Manny V. Pangilinan is concerned, Meralco’s historic feat in the PBA on Monday night boils down to the Bolts’ desire to reach the Governors Cup Finals more than TNT Katropa.
Sitting at his customary VIP section inside the Smart Araneta Coliseum, Pangilinan personally witnessed Fil-American Cliff Hodge catch fire in the last period as the Bolts subdued the Katropa, 94-88 to win the semifinal series, 3-1.
The 6-foot-4 Hodge fired a PBA career-best 32 points, towing Meralco to the best-of-seven championship round for the first time since joining the league in the 2010-11 season.
“They (Bolts) were well-coached and the team played with a lot of intensity, commitment and energy, which we didn’t see in TNT for the last three games,” Pangilinan told media men, moments after leaving the Katropa’s gloomy dugout.
“They wanted to win more, I think it’s as simple as that.”
Pangilinan, who owns three PBA franchises—TNT, Meralco and NLEX, said seeing the Katropa play with less effort on the floor was a “mystery”.
The former Samahag Basketbol ng Pilipinas president said he didn’t bother to say anything at TNT’s dugout, especially since everyone, from the coaches to the players, were left speechless by the humbling semifinal loss.
“Wala eh, ayaw magsalita eh, so there’s no point kasi di rin papasok sa utak nila eh. So let them process the defeat,” he added.
It was a sorry ending to an otherwise promising conference for TNT, especially after posting a near perfect 10-1 win-loss record in the single-round eliminations.
The Katropa went on plaster the Phoenix Fuel Masters in the quarterfinals, before taking Game 1 of the semifinals against the Bolts, 113-95.
But it was downhill from there for TNT, which lost the next three games to end the 41st season on a disappointing note.
TNT’s sad ending mirrored the 2014 Commissioner’s Cup, winning 13 straight games during that conference, before losing, 3-1 to eventual champion San Mig in the Finals. – Richard Dy
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