ANTIPOLO — A near-meltdown at the hands of Columbian, not a current five-game winning streak in the PBA Philippine Cup, left a huge impression on Jayson Castro and the rest of TNT.
The KaTropa bagged their seventh win in 10 games on Friday at the Ynares Center in Rizal, but it wasn’t without a hitch as a late Dyip fightback in the final frame nearly put a dent on their hopes of gaining a twice-to-beat berth.
“‘Yung team namin we’re playing well naman, except dito sa game though nanalo kami, medyo nag-struggle kami sa defense namin. Isang wake-up call samin yun na mag-improve pa,” Castro said after the game.
Luckily for the team, their defense remained as stout as it was in the last four games.
The KaTropa were able to force top gun Rashawn McCarthy to a paltry 4-for-19 clip from the field, with two of those misses coming in the final seconds as the Dyip attempted to extend the action for five more minutes.
Columbian also had 27 turnovers as McCarthy accounted for nine.
“‘Yun yung pinaka-calling card namin ngayon, yung defense. Even sa practice, yun yung number one focus namin,” Castro added.
“Kung makikita niyo every game naman iba-iba yung umi-score. Pero sa defense, talaga nandoon kami lahat. Siguro yun yung key, yung chemistry namin. At lahat willing mag-sacrifice para dumepensa talaga,” he continued. “Lahat naman samin willing mag-sacrifice para sa ikaka-ganda ng team. Yun ang number one commitment namin para sa team.”
The win means TNT will still have a shot at placing in the top two, but they’ll have to take care of business first in their last game against NorthPort and have other pieces fall in their favor.
But regardless of where they’ll end up after the elimination round, making the playoffs will be a welcome change for a team that narrowly missed the quarterfinals with a ninth-place finish in the 2018 Governors’ Cup.
“Malaking bagay kasi alam namin na may chance pa kami sa top two, at the same time yung winning streak namin gusto namin ma-continue. Kasi last conference di kami nakarating dito eh. So malaking oppportunity para sa’min,” Castro said.