Playoff-bound TNT looks to correct defensive slippage as SMB matchup looms large

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TNT has boasted one of the league’s best defenses for most of the 2019 PBA Philippine Cup, but the last two games are an indication that they still need to smoothen some creases on that end.

Their latest loss on Sunday NorthPort might have even highlighted these problems for the playoff-bound KaTropa.

Tipped against a Batang Pier side that needed a crucial win to keep its faltering quarterfinals hopes alive, TNT looked lethargic and allowed their foes to catch fire.

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The results were unflattering: NorthPort shot 52 percent from the field—the most that they’ve allowed from anybody this conference—and made nearly half of their threes (14-for-30), with eight of those coming in a blistering first half that appeared to put the game out of reach immediately.

“Ganun talaga sa basketball. Maganda yung preparations nila sa amin, yung game plan nila. Lahat ng tinira nila, pumapasok,” Jayson Castro observed.

“Dun na nga, nakikita lang siguro depensa namin. We’re improving, pero kailangan consistent kami. Kailangan ‘di pwedeng mag-let down or mag-relax, especially sa depensa. ‘Yun nga sabi ni coach Mark (Dickel), kailangan seryosohin pa namin ang depensa namin,” said head coach Bong Ravena.

Bong Ravena, Jayson Castro (Photos from the PBA Media Group)

TNT finished its elimination round with a 7-4 win-loss record, meaning that they’ve lost their one shot at clinching a twice-to-beat advantage to Rain or Shine, who locked up the second seed with an 8-3 record while holding the tiebreaker over Ginebra.

“Sayang talaga. Pero wala kang magagawa kung ganun ang klase ng laro namin. ‘Di ka talaga mananalo kapag mga ganun. Maybe we’re tired because back-to-back games kami eh. Siguro isang factor din,” head coach Bong Ravena said after the loss.

But with the team looking like they’ll be set for an early collision course against reigning four-time All-Filipino champs San Miguel, don’t expect TNT to dwell on this loss.

“‘Yun naman yung kagandahan ng game. Laging may preparations. So tingnan lang naming yung game namin vs. NorthPort Kung ano yung mga maling nagawa namin, kailangan naming i-correct,” Castro said.

“Move on lang. We have to be ready versus San Miguel. Hopefully. Alam mo naman San Miguel kailangan paghandaan mo. It’s not easy. Ganun talaga,” Ravena added.

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