Disgusted with TNT’s lackluster performance in the first 12 minutes of play, coach Nash Racela stood up from his seat, gathered the KaTropa in a huddle and let all of his frustrations out.
He may not have been calling the shots on a full-time basis so far, but Racela is already keen on changing—and improving—TNT’s collective mentality sooner than later.
Heeding Racela’s call, the KaTropa buckled down to work and displayed poise down the stretch to turn back the erstwhile surging Blackwater Elite on Friday night 99-92 for their second straight win in the 2017 PBA Philippine Cup at the Smart-Araneta Coliseum.
Racela, for the third straight game, gave the keys to top deputy Josh Reyes but couldn’t contain his emotions when the KaTropa, despite the return of top guard Jayson Castro, got off to a sluggish start and trailed by 21-30 at the end of the first canto.
“I just reminded them that this is one of the moments na kailangan ayusin natin,” shared Racela. “Pinag-usapan pa naman namin kahapon during out post-huddle in practice ‘We can’t choose to play only in the last five minutes.’ Ang dapat naming dine-develop is for us playing well, playing correctly for the whole 48 minutes. After the first 12 minutes, hindi maganda.”
Even Reyes admitted the KaTropa somehow got jolted back to their senses following Racela’s outburst.
“We didn’t start the way we wanted to. We only adjusted when coach Nash started to get mad at the players. Then they started doing the right things,” he said as the KaTropa started to take control in the second frame then did enough in the stretch to hold off the Elite’s fightback from 13 points down.
“Nag-respond naman sila after the quarter break. Naging mas maganda na ‘yung nilaro namin in the second then it picked up in the third and fourth,” stressed racela. “Except on those last three minutes kung kailan bumaba ‘yung energy.”
While the KaTropa won their second straight match and improved to 2-1 overall in a tie with the Elite, Racela sounded hardly pleased, knowing his wards still have plenty of room for improvement.
“Of course we’re happy na nakakuha kami ng dalawang panalo. But after the game, I reminded them just to learn how to look at the bigger picture. Sometimes ang tendency namin is being short-sighted,” he stressed.
“We’re looking at Blackwater and preparing for this game, but we’re not really looking at the bigger picture in terms of our improvement, development as a team. Ganito nangyari last time. Focus kami ng focus dito, tapos kinapos kami.”
The body language of the KaTropa collectively against the Elite was far different from the one they showed after pulling off a come-from-behind 108-103 victory over crowd favorite Barangay Ginebra over the weekend.
“Sabi ko we got the same result but the look on their faces, ibang-iba. Maybe you know in yourselves, deep in your hearts, na may kaya pa kayong ibigay,” stressed Racela. “And that’s something that we want to improve every game, regardless of who we play.”
Reyes shared the same view. “These are the things that we need to adjust and we need to come out every time with the right things in mind—energy-wise, intensity-wise, pride-wise.” – Jerome Lagunzad
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